I appreciated the recent commentaries by Tony Bender and Mike McFeely regarding the tribalism and ongoing lack of moral sensibility demonstrated by the North Dakota congressional delegation, the governor and their ilk.

Factionalism has always been a part of the American experiment pulling the nation toward both liberalism and illiberalism, but usually with some sense of civility and for the betterment of the nation.

After the Civil War, Frederick Douglass said the following about the United States and its challenges.

“A government founded upon justice, and recognizing the equal rights of all men; claiming no higher authority for existence, or sanction for its laws, than nature, reason, and the regularly ascertained will of the people; steadily refusing to put its sword and purse in the service of any religious creed or family, is a standing offense to most of the governments of the world, and to some narrow and bigoted people among ourselves."

In the second half of the 20th century, there was a strong trend toward more democracy around the world. That trend is now in reverse as a growing number of countries move toward authoritarian rule. The erosion has continued for 13 consecutive years, with 89 of 167 countries considered less democratic. Sixty-eight countries suffered a decline in political rights and civil liberties during the past 12 months and the U.S. is now ranked 21st, and considered a "flawed democracy.”

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With such serious potential consequences, we cannot afford reticent silence on the salient and grave issues of our time from our leaders. Inaction in the face of tyranny and authoritarianism without consequence will allow “...some narrow and bigoted people among ourselves” to prevail.