I was saddened by Ira Shapiro's experience expressed in his column "Some of my best friends are (gasp!) Republicans" (Dec. 9). His "encounters" suggest the level of intolerance...

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I was saddened by Ira Shapiro’s experience expressed in his column “Some of my best friends are (gasp!) Republicans” (Dec. 9). His “encounters” suggest the level of intolerance and ignorance that plagues our political and social perspectives today. For someone to be incredulous that one may associate with and know, much less respect, those with views contrary to one’s own is exactly why we have the divisiveness we now experience in our society.

What we have become are package ideologists. We are either Democrats or Republicans. These are “positions” that are uncompromising. You must buy the entire matched set to proclaim you belong to either one of these groups.

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I have been through 11 presidential elections, and I have never seen this country as segmented as it is today. If you cannot buy the entire argument for each subset of “principles,” (right to life, the environment, energy use, gun control, human rights, etc.) you are suspect and look to be untrustworthy by your “group.”

For an educated group of friends, who I assume associate with Mr. Shapiro, to question seriously “how do you know a Republican” is a sad, sad state of affairs. It reminds me of a series of congressional hearing years ago where a certain Midwestern senator and his fellow committee members viciously attack normal American citizens who may have had friends who were (gasp!) Communist.

I have historically voted Democratic, although I have voted from time to time for a Republican as well as voted from time to time for positions that are not consistent with “Democratic” ideology. I don’t consider myself a traitor (or a Republican) but I do know some (Republicans that is) and they are good friends of mine and have been to my house and we have broken bread together.

The one thing I am sure of regarding my “political persuasions” (and I know I am not alone in this view) is that they are not based in faith in political principles but rather in faith in man. And to have that faith, albeit hard in times like these, allows me and others like me to understand that there are well-meaning human beings who have given much time and thought to their political positions who are spread throughout the political and social spectrum of ideas. It also allows me to know that grace, temperance and kindness always trumps political argument and ideology.

Bob Squaglia writes from Seattle.