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Time to end the demonizing
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
 I’m writing in response to Frank Aquila’s letter which characterized Hillary Clinton supporters as “haters and takers”. Clinton rightfully faced criticism when she claimed that “half” of Trump supporters were  “a basket of deplorables”. That was an insulting exaggeration on her part, but to her credit, she did acknowledge that she made a mistake using the word “half”. Trump does, indeed, attract an extremist fringe group of racists, misogynists, and xenophobes, but hopefully these make up just a small  number of his admirers. There are fringe and extremist supporters (although they differ in causes or issues) in most political parties (including the Green Party and Libertarians). No one political party unquestionably holds the moral high ground. That said, I find it hypocritical of Aquila to condemn Clinton’s exaggeration while pressing one of his very own making. By stating “Many (of Clinton supporters) are the ‘Haters and the Takers’ “,  he creates his own false narrative. “Many” is even more of an exaggeration than “half”.
 Aquila, a Republican, holds a very warped view of Democrats and Clinton supporters. He thinks we are “haters of American greatness”, “believe in the communist ideology of Karl Marx”, advocate “peacefully overthrowing the government and replacing it with communism”, follow the teachings of Saul Alinsky whose supposed purpose is “to motivate and hate one group of Americans over another”, see the American flag as “a symbol of oppression”, and consider “Christians the biggest threat to their Democrat dynasty”. As I have already written, every political party has its fringe elements, but to claim that his bizarre assertions fit “many” Clinton supports is flat-out ridiculous.
 In a previous letter, Aquila equated Democrats with the devil. As a Democrat who was fortunate, years ago, to work a political campaign with the late and much respected Democrat operative Bill Perkins at his home, I can assure Aquila that we campaign volunteers did not don red robes and ritually engage in animal sacrifice to Satan. No one besmirched Christians (I am one, myself) or ever discussed Karl Marx’s ideology, and the names Saul Alinsky and George Soros were never mentioned. Until Aquila’s letters, I hadn’t heard of either gentleman. I would suggest that those volunteering and working within our political system (whatever party affiliation) to improve the quality of life for our citizens and our country are not “haters of American greatness”. On the contrary, they are the opposite and show dedication.
  Aquila also fostered numerous generalizations about the supposed “takers” — those he rather inelegantly described as “stuck on the government nipple”. He claims Democrats want to make people  “dependent on the government to take care of all their needs”. He then undercuts and sabotages his point by asserting that Democrats shortchange the poor “by providing a few appetizers without providing the main course”. He contradicts himself since “appetizers” do not fulfill “all their needs”. Strangest of all is Aquila’s belief that Democrats have some diabolical scheme to “create more and more “poor people” who rely on the government” , apparently as a devious way to “control that group of voters to consistently vote Democrat”.
 I am truly fed up with deranged conspiracy theories, one political party demonizing (literally) the other, the general lack of respect between parties and personal attacks on character (both sides), rather than a rational discussion of issues and policies and comparisons between the two Presidential candidates’ plans and goals. The “blame game” and distortion of reality seem to have overshadowed American politics from the national level on down to the local. I really can’t do much about national or state politics, other than exercise my right to vote (which has been consistently protected through the years by our self-sacrificing military forces). But I feel compelled to act on the local level by personally refuting letters that skew reality, stoke contempt, create division rather than seek areas of agreement or compromise, and paint the opposing political party or candidates’ supporters as demeaning stereotypes. There should be no place in political discussion for derogatory exaggerations like “deplorables” or “haters and takers”. We should, on all sides, take Michelle Obama’s heart-felt advice, “When they go low, we go high”. Let’s set higher standards for our political discourse, by all parties.

 Karen Pearsall