As Loudoun County begins the gradual process of reopening its economy, there's something nagging at us – something that seems worthy of reflection and, frankly, laying bare: that is the toxic tenor that continues to pervade our political discourse, both locally and nationally.

With the daily deluge of news brought on by the pandemic, the Times-Mirror and news organizations across the country have expectantly seen a spike in readership and web activity. Consequently, we've seen a rise in hateful, insulting, us-versus-them engagement among our readers, all of whom are our neighbors.

With more people at home in front of their laptops – and many residents apparently with more free time on their hands – our comment section has seen a growing audience in the past two months. We wish that's something we could unequivocally celebrate. Sadly, it is not.

A repeated blindness to the facts and refusal to accept that neither party has a monopoly on solutions or good policy – or, simply, integrity – is not constructive. It wasn't constructive before the pandemic, it isn't now, and it won't be going forward. The political tribalism and freewheeling rhetoric has become downright maddening. Looking ahead, it's this tribalism that may cripple our nation more than the ongoing health and economic crisis.

To the die-hard Democrats out there, we hope you can acknowledge our governor has made numerous missteps along the way in his coronavirus response, namely a repeated lack of clarity on guidelines, next steps and how his pandemic-related executive orders will work in practice.

To the Trump-can-do-no-wrong Republicans, the president too has had no shortage of gaffes in guidance over the past three months. More importantly, President Trump has failed in offering the unifying, bring-the-nation-together message the moment calls for.

Let's take a look at what we're talking about. A very quick perusal of our comment section – which our staff spends hours upon hours moderating each week – yields the following recent remarks.

“I’m getting tired of Democrats and their feelings.”

“ .. watch something else besides the Communist Corrupt News, network. Trump was slammed by all the usual liberal pieces of garbage for locking down America, and holding the fake WHO 'Wuhan Health Organization' for lying and covering up. And no 'the people' didn't vote this [Northam] idiot in, he purchased his position through Bloomberg, just like Wexton, Kaine and John Bell did. Don't worry liberals want to send ballots to dead people's former addresses. Virginia will revolt come election day to this Gestapo crap from Northam. Look at the economy under Trump. Under others things would have collapsed, but thanks to Trump canning all of Obama's 'hate legislation' which by the way much which was overturned by the Supreme Court. Can't wait until Comey shares a cell with Obama.”

“You mean Republicans love freedom and Democrats love tyranny. There's a shocker.”

“This whole 'losing our freedom' is ridiculous. Bunch of whining cry babies who are spoiled rotten. Once again, please move to a communist country (or a country with zero rights) and report back.”

Having a personal viewpoint and deep-founded political beliefs is natural, though some people's views are far more fervent – perhaps unhealthily so – than others.

Debate, dialogue and dissent is going to happen. Oftentimes, it's healthy. But the nastiness, the attacks, the blind party allegiance … Can we just … can we just be … respectful?

To our followers, we always appreciate your readership and (almost) always enjoy your feedback. But we don't revel in reading insults and vitriol.

As we venture back out into the world and slowly regain our social lives, strive to be better, kinder and more understanding.

(1) comment

Sunday Sinner

I think a good start would be changing out the spam detector. It is oddly sensitive to whitespace and punctuation. It's basically forcing people into twitter style hot takes. Longer, well thought out comments are forced into giant wall of text paragraphs no one reads.

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