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Editorial: Can a house divided continue to stand?

The political discourse in America is crude and violent — and getting worse by the day. If there is a majority in this country that still believes in the rule of law and common decency in how we communicate with each other, this is the time to stand up. The clock is ticking loudly.

We recently observed a flag at a residential property on the North Fork bearing the ugly “F” word followed by “Biden.” We wondered what the neighbors felt about this flag, particularly those with young children in the home. But anyone displaying such an obscenity clearly doesn’t care what anyone on his or her street thinks. We also wondered how that person would react if a neighbor put up an ‘F’ Trump flag. Probably not well.

We read about polls in which over half the respondents believe the country is headed for a second civil war. Prominent conservative politicians predict riots if their leader is indicted. People can’t get their facts straight thanks to the lies being spread on some TV and radio outlets and on the internet. 

Someone sent us a photograph recently of a person holding up a sign outside a North Fork restaurant. It read: “Chief Flatley is innocent. The Suffolk Times lies.” Just to be accurate, the Town Board acted to suspend the chief; we just reported it.

On top of widespread ugliness, a tsunami of hypocrisy is washing over our political system. At the same time, the country is under immense stress with continuing denial of 2020 presidential election results and the possibility of a criminal investigation concerning top secret documents found in the former president’s Florida home.

Some Trump supporters campaigning for higher office still claim the election was “stolen” — despite dozens of court decisions to the contrary. Continuing to shout this lie undermines the most basic tenets of our electoral system. 

Some on the left called for “defunding the police,” and the MAGA right is now shooting back with “Defund the FBI” and “Abolish the IRS.” 

When President Biden announced that federally backed student loans — even for couples making up to $250,000 a year — could receive forgiveness up to $20,000, some on both the left and right criticized the move. 

Some of the left said the money would not affect the demographic that most needed it; some conservative members of Congress blasted Biden for rewarding “lazy,” upper income college graduates by forgiving a portion of their student loans. Some of those in Congress who were the harshest in their criticism had personally received hundreds of thousands of dollars in PPP money during the pandemic — all of which was forgiven. 

Beyond their hypocrisy, why were members of Congress getting PPP money intended to help small businesses across the country survive the pandemic? How do these people go nuts over student loan forgiveness when their PPP loans were all forgiven? We are not sure how far you’d have to look back into American history to find hypocrites who can so easily scream out of both sides of their mouths.

As Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) continues his campaign for governor, he will need to address some critical questions about his support for the former president who is now under criminal investigation. Voters should know where he stands. 

We urge both Mr. Zeldin and Gov. Kathy Hochul to forgo the name calling — she recently said people like Zeldin should leave the state — and concentrate on quality-of-life issues that impact millions of state residents. The coarseness in our politics, the mind-numbing hypocrisy, the endless conspiracy theories and lies — the ‘F’ bomb flying above our neighbors’ homes — will be the end of this experiment in democracy.