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Former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot recently warned our republic is in peril due to the lack of fidelity — faithfulness to our state and federal constitutions and our country instead of the pursuit of power merely for power’s sake. He said our national dialogue has degenerated, and he largely blamed the prevalence of social media for the phenomenon.

In a recent speech to the Montana Taxpayers Association, the popular two-term Republican governor said, “It seems almost impossible to me to manage the noise, to control the flood of unverified and frequently inaccurate communications, conceived in anger and competition and then regretted because of all the blathering that is now a matter of public record.”

He said the process of people of differing views sitting down together to talk about how to solve problems has been replaced by mindless electronic posts that produce more confusion than understanding. Racicot named no names in the speech, although last year he told Yellowstone Public Radio he would be voting for Joe Biden, citing character flaws he saw in former President Trump. But there are lessons the most extreme elements on both ends of the political spectrum could take from his words.

Compromise has become a dirty word. The days when politicians looked across the aisle to form coalitions to advocate for shared interests are long gone. As Racicot observed, thoughtful give-and-take negotiation has been precluded by the firehose of misinformation and demonization coming from social media at the speed of light. By the time legitimate fact checkers have debunked one falsehood, hundreds more have been posted. And on and on it goes.

“I’m suggesting that we focus on caring and listening to each other, gathering the facts before we make up our minds and then actually fixing our society’s problems,” he said. In other words, turn off social media and turn on our brains. Practice some genuine critical thinking instead of running with the latest cockamamie conspiracy theory or phony culture war talking point.

It’s been said Ronald Reagan could never be nominated for president in today’s Republican Party. Given the sober warning he gave about today’s political dialogue in this speech, Racicot could not likely win the nomination for governor from today’s GOP.

Let’s face it, what he is saying is just not what today’s politicians want to hear.

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