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For years I've been playing the thought experiment of whether or not I would abandon a Democrat who exhibited the same lack of fitness for office as Donald Trump. The most upsetting part of Trump's prominence in the Republican Party isn't Trump himself, it's his party's unquestioned fealty to him. It has habitually crossed moral red lines and twisted the notion of acceptable behavior to accommodate what was previously unacceptable. The literal definition of a cult of personality.

What the Democratic Party is wrestling with now is whether to go down that same path. The angry rebuke to critics of Joe Biden's fitness for office has been "Don't look at Biden, look at Trump!" This is an intellectual dead end. Unflinching loyalty and praise (while quietly knowing better) is how we ended up with a Republican Party controlled by one person.

I fully grant that Biden is a truly decent man, and there is no comparison to the black hole of self-loathing and cruelty that animates Trump. But the presidency demands more than decency. It demands a level of energy and intellectual sharpness that few of us could muster daily for four years. With his catastrophic debate performance, Biden has been revealed to be an elderly man in decline. And that's OK, and completely normal. But in the context of a presidential race, it cannot be our best strategy to pray that Biden doesn't trip, verbally or physically, for the next four months. For the average undecided voter, whose "news" might be a five-second TikTok video of Biden staring into space, this race is over. Crossing our fingers is not a strategy.

Biden has served his country proudly and with dignity. Stepping down now would be the fulfillment of that legacy. In the face of an all-but-certain authoritarian era, our "loyalty" needs to be to democracy.

Travis Anderson, Minneapolis


Dear Joe,

You and your team seem to have settled on the argument that you won the right to run because you got enough delegates in democratically held primaries.

The thing is, the primaries were anything but democratic, with a couple of minor players running against you. "The code" prohibited serious candidates from running as long as the sitting president was running. Most voters held their noses and voted for you. Others, like me, did not due to the situation with the Palestinians.

This was widely reported throughout the primary season. Now, if you insist on using this excuse to continue running, we will again be forced to hold our noses and vote for you.

But will that be enough? Why are you doing the one thing we have accused the GOP of doing, putting yourself above the country?

Our elections are never about the overall vote. Our elections are about the Electoral College, and right now you are losing in critical swing states.

And no, you are not the only person, the right person, to beat the other guy. In fact, the Dems have more really qualified people to be president than the GOP, and any one of them would beat the other guy and probably in a landslide. I'm not confident you can beat him, let alone by a wide margin.

Please do the right thing and step aside.

Nancy Hassett, Big Lake


Polls regarding the election are starting to show the American people are seeing through the gaslighting perpetrated by the Democrats and the media. The latest polls regarding the issues that concern Americans show Trump leading by double digits on key issues, including which candidate will protect and save democracy. The majority of Americans realize that the Biden campaign coordinating with intelligence agencies to lie about Hunter Biden's laptop (which also changed the result of 2020), Democrats fighting to keep Robert F. Kennedy Jr. off the ballot, and Biden and the media hiding his cognitive decline are much greater threats to democracy then someone vowing to make America great again.

I want a return to economic prosperity, peace and respect among our allies and adversaries. The left's agenda offers none of these, especially when led by someone mentally incompetent.

Bob Tumilson, Apple Valley


This fall I have a choice between a really old guy or a really crazy guy. I'll go with old.

James G. Ales Jr., Burnsville


We should be thankful that Biden's "bad episode" happened on the debate stage and not the Situation Room. What about next time? Time to pass the baton to Vice President Kamala Harris while there is still time to win the race. And do so boldly: Withdraw from the race and resign the presidency to Harris. This would cement Biden's career-long legacy of putting country before party or ego, let him single-handedly lead our nation to its first female president, continue the successes of the last three-and-a-half years, and put the question of age and competence squarely on Trump.

Kyle Nelson, Minneapolis


Trump is trying to distance himself, and I'm not buying it

If you don't know about Project 2025, it's time you did. It's a blueprint for a second Trump administration crafted by multiple former Trump administration officials. It should scare the heck out of you.

Project 2025 proposes to ban abortions and contraceptives, tear down the wall between church and state, convert our merit-based civil service into a loyalty-based spoils system, pass tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, reverse/eliminate initiatives to combat climate change, direct the Department of Justice to prosecute political enemies, get rid of the Department of Education and other agencies, expand the use of public funds for private religious schools, dismantle civil rights protections, undo regulations on big business and oil, overturn recognition of gay marriage and remove equality protections for the LGBTQ community, neuter the FBI, deploy the military to put down protests, impose restrictions on classroom topics and round up immigrants and place them in camps.

Trump has recently been trying to distance himself from this odious plan, saying he knows nothing about it. Don't be fooled. More than 80% of the people involved in writing Project 2025 held formal roles in Trump's presidency and some are current advisers. Many are in line for key positions to implement the plan in a second Trump administration.

David Pederson, Excelsior


'Alleges'? Really?

It is inexcusable that the Star Tribune republished an Associated Press story online about Alice Munro's daughter under the headline, "Alice Munro's daughter alleges sexual abuse by the late author's husband." According to the coverage in the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Toronto Star, which published Alice Munro's daughter original account as well as supporting articles by independent reporters, Munro's daughter reported the abuse to the police, and the stepfather was prosecuted, confessed in detail, pleaded guilty and was convicted. Your republication of the word "alleges" under these circumstances seems to underscore a belief that women anywhere, under any circumstances and despite all evidence are always to be doubted when they reveal abuse. I'm appalled.

Anna Odegaard, St. Paul