By Kay Stein

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When I survey the current political landscape in America, I am appalled and saddened to see the damage being done to our democracy, our government and our way of life by Donald Trump and his followers.

It has been obvious since well before the 2016 election that his inexperience and temperament make him unqualified to serve as president of the United States.

He has surrounded himself with people of questionable integrity — Michael Flynn, Scott Pruitt and Tom Price, to name a few.

The White House operates in a constant state of chaos brought about mainly by Trump’s “management” style, consisting of personal whim, ego gratification, inconsistency, bullying, ignoring expert advice and uncontrolled tweeting.

Finally, Trump’s character — his lack of empathy, civility, ethical standards and his concern only for himself — has demeaned the office of the presidency and tarnished America’s reputation in the world.

In my opinion, the responsibility for this state of affairs lies first with those who voted for Trump and who continue to excuse his proven lies and inappropriate behavior, but there are two other groups of enablers who bear responsibility as well: The Republicans in Congress, and those voters who sat out the 2016 election.

With few exceptions, like John McCain, Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, the Republican congressional enablers have lacked the courage to stand up to the president for fear his bullying will be directed at them and jeopardize their re-election.

A solution to this could be for all (or even most) Republicans in Congress to stand up to him as a group, as they did when they voted to retain sanctions on Russia.

But when they remain silent or fail to take action to restrain him — for example, their unwillingness to vote to protect the special counsel’s investigation of Russian election interference — they show themselves to be morally and ethically bankrupt.

But the Democratic and Independent enablers who failed to vote in 2016 are equally at fault for our current situation.

To them I say: Were you such an ideological purist that you could not bring yourself to vote for Clinton, either because you strongly disliked her or because Bernie Sanders didn’t get the nomination or because you wanted to make a statement?

If so, you maintained your sense of personal righteousness at the expense of the country.

Or did you have no time for politics? As my dad used to say: You have the time; it’s a question of what you choose to spend it on.

Or were you so overwhelmed with jobs and raising kids that you were too tired to spend time on anything except vegging in front of the television or some device? I empathize — been there, done that.

But to you I say: If you are unhappy with Trump and his congressional enablers, then next time around could you spend a little less time on Netflix and a little more time on educating yourself about the issues facing our nation and about the candidates who, if elected, may be addressing those issues?

And then take a few minutes to fill out a ballot and drop it in the mail?

Many people around the world have fought and died for the right to vote, but Oregon makes it easy for you!

And I also ask nonvoters: Have you any values that are important to you?

Are there things you care about, for yourself, your family and our country?

If so, please vote in November for the candidate that comes closest to sharing your values and concerns, even if you don’t agree with that person 100 percent on every single issue?

But please don’t sit this one out.

As for me, I will help reduce the number of Republican congressional enablers by voting for Rep. Greg Walden’s exceptionally well-qualified opponent, Jamie McLeod-Skinner.

— Kay Stein lives in Bend.