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We’re headlong into another presidential election cycle. When the Republicans finally figure out who their standard bearer is going to be, it is almost guaranteed that things will get ugly. Mud slinging, back stabbing, half-truths, innuendo, and talking heads of both parties will bombard us with their version of the truth.

We applaud those who comment on issues. Most persons wishing to opine have a choice — take the high road or sink to the level of many political hacks. Some opinion-makers will stick to the issues and refrain from name-calling or making their attacks personal. Whether one agrees with another person or not is not the issue most readers are interested in viewing. Most are just interested in reviewing facts.

Agree or disagree with candidates running for president, the Senate or the House of Representatives, let’s make every attempt to keep our dialogue civil. If one disagrees with another person, take it up with that other person in a manner that does not expose ignorance or lack of respect.

What we’re talking about here is not just the First Amendment to the United States’ Constitution, that guarantees all Americans the right to free speech, but whether we’ve sunk to the same level as Sunday morning round table discussions in which shouting over one another in an effort to be heard is commonplace.

Let’s steer clear of the kind of disagreements that erupt in South Korea, where occasionally politicians get into fistfights. By all means let’s not engage in the donnybrooks that cause Iraqis to throw shoes when they disrespect one another.

What’s the point? This newspaper will defend one’s right to agree or disagree with our editorials or reader opinions on any issue. Further, we guarantee the right of readers to share their thoughts (as long as the letters do not exceed 300 words or libel another person).

Let’s strive to agree or disagree in a more civilized manner during this election cycle. Who knows, maybe our elected officials will sit up and take notice.

— Keith Hansen