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I propose that we do something very radical in selecting our president in 2020: Let’s put aside, temporarily, the labels of “Democrat” and “Republican” and base our choices on the character of the candidates.

We could have a president who: demonstrably tells the truth, at least most of the time; does not belittle others, ever, through name-calling or mockery; seeks the best possible people to serve as advisers, even if they disagree with him/her, and thoughtfully considers the advice of these advisers in making crucial decisions; speaks most frequently using “we” instead of “I”; understands that he/she represents all the American people, even those who disagree; values a free press, even when it is critical of the president’s positions, and never calls it the “enemy of the people”; has a relatively thick skin when it comes to criticism and does not need to “strike back” when criticized; seldom, if ever, blames others; accepts responsibility for his/her own actions; never demonizes those who oppose his/her positions; respects all religions equally in policy and law; has a history of treating both men and women with respect in work and personal affairs; leads in a positive direction rather than through fear and threats; and recognizes that loyalty to the country, its processes, and the rule of law is superior to personal loyalty.

These are only a few of the attributes of a president with strong character. But they can serve as a litmus test to determine a candidate’s fitness before considering political labels and platforms. Wouldn’t it be exciting to have two solid people of character from which to choose? Or is this too much to ask?

Oh, and one other thing: Like character, intelligence and social skills somehow have become less-than-desired attributes in those who govern us. Those who possess them are mockingly called “elitists.” I may be only one of 327 million Americans, but I can say with absolute certainty that I want my president to be smarter than I am, and I want that president to behave in a manner viewed with respect by virtually all other leaders in our world.

David Brom, Minneapolis

MUELLER REMARKS

I’ll follow the facts, thanks

I will believe that the president is an innocent man when the White House or a Republican member of Congress stands in front of the nation and shows me where in the Mueller report and where in his public address it specifically says “no obstruction” and that the president was exonerated.

For now, I’ll believe the facts. I’ll believe that as special counsel Robert Mueller said, if he “had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, [he] would have said so.” I will believe that the report is a guide for Congress to do its job. I believe Mueller when he said there is a “process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”

I believe the facts. I believe that Mueller is telling a democratically elected Congress to do its job and hold an illegitimate man accountable. Again, once someone presents “their facts” that there was “no obstruction” and “total exoneration,” I will continue to believe the real facts.

Jack Parker, Minneapolis

TRUMP

Take a Victorian word of advice

William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898), who was the British prime minister on four occasions during the reign of Queen Victoria, advised the actress Lillie Lantry: “In your professional career, you will receive attacks, personal and critical, just and unjust. Bear them, never reply, and, above all, never rush into print to explain or defend yourself.” Might this Victorian view serve our president well?

Roger Nelson, Woodbury

ENDANGERED PLANTS

Roadway exemption already exists

A recent letter (“Protect roadside endangered plants,” May 25) suggested that the Association of Minnesota Counties sought an expansion of a roadway exemption from the legislature relating to the state’s endangered plants law. This is false. This exemption has been in place since the early 1980s and AMC has partnered with the Department of Natural Resources for the past two years on language to provide clarification for both road authorities and department staff on what land is included in the exemption.

This provision only applies to existing public road right-of-way, and adding a statutory definition does not expand current practices. Throughout this process, it has been our priority to increase our communication and identification of these plant species across the state so that all parties understand which plants are statutorily protected.

We are proud of our work with state agencies and the Legislature on environmental protection issues. This legislative session we supported efforts to improve and protect our natural resources by dealing with invasive species such as the emerald ash borer and diseases such as chronic wasting disease and by empowering counties to develop cost-effective, efficient and environmentally sound waste management practices.

In addition to our important environmental work, AMC works for the betterment of our residents by advocating for new funding to address the state’s opioid crisis, increased county program aid, and additional resources to build out our state’s broadband infrastructure.

Thank you to legislators of both parties and Gov. Tim Walz for prioritizing the needs of counties, all state residents, and our natural resources this legislative session!

Scott Schulte, Coon Rapids

The writer is an Anoka County commissioner and president of the Association of Minnesota Counties.

LEGISLATURE

Don’t celebrate ending on time when the real stuff didn’t pass

Sorry to rain on the parade, but the only “win” this legislative session was ending close to on time (“Walz’s first session a win,” front page, May 27). The Republicans won with their obstinate naysaying tactics. You know that’s the case when the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Business Partnership praise the deal.

It’s the basic welfare of the majority of Minnesotans, urban and rural alike, that loses every time with these “compromise” deals. We get rising inequality, crumbling infrastructure, struggling public schools, expensive and dysfunctional health care, obscene levels of gun violence, and opioid and affordable housing crises.

Yes, Democratic perseverance prevailed and some important legislation passed. But more critical bills failed — on gun violence, paid family leave, adequate funding for schools, adequate funding for infrastructure repair, mass transit and affordable housing. Climate change? What’s that?

The Republican extreme agenda has to be crystal clear to the public, especially moderate Republicans. Compromise muddies the waters. Don’t play the game. Hold firm and stand up for democratic values of justice and opportunity for all — even if it means not finishing session on time. I know it’s not easy.

The far right must lose, more than once, if we’re to stop this slide toward self-destruction.

L. Hope Melton, Edina

• • •

“[It] has to wait” was the partial response by Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka given to a parent of a child with Type 1 diabetes as to why the emergency insulin bill did not pass this session. Well, diabetics in need of life-saving insulin cannot wait. They will end up in the hospital, or worse, the morgue.

You would think this bill would be high priority since it would literally save lives. As the parent of a child with Type 1 as well, I am devastated that once again the insulin issue seems to be invisible.

Carole Jensen, New Hope