HEY! You kids in the back seat, don’t make me stop this car! Yes, both of you! Republicans, stop whining! Democrats, stop hitting your brother!

For the love of all that is holy and good, both parties need to stop the playground politics—to mix my metaphors with wanton impunity. That’s how mad I am.

I’m chiefly referring at present to the political parties in Klickitat County, though the points I’m about to make can readily be addressed on the national level. But let’s start at home.

After the shocking violence on Jan. 6 at the nation’s capitol, I solicited comment from everywhere about the event. I anticipated unanimous outcrying against the violence. I prepared a headline emphasizing the solidarity that I was sure was coming, awaiting only a final response from the Klickitat Democrats. When I got it, I was perplexed at the lack of a direct yes-or-no on denouncing the violence; the response was conditional, insisting that Republicans eschew a narrative that was seen by Democrats as fueling the flames before Democrats could join in the solidarity.

I was upset. Okay, fine, make that point too if you feel you must, but can you at least just say plain yes or no on the violence issue? But I got what I got, and at that hour I had to run it. I thought it diminished a potential moment of universality that could start the building of a bridge.

Hold on, Republicans.

It hasn’t come yet, but I hear the county party—and most likely the state party as well—is ready to figuratively tar and feather Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler for voting to impeach former President Trump. The word is the party will go out of its way to find another Republican to run against her in two years. Why? She placed loyalty to conscience above loyalty to party.

Of course that’s not how many Republicans see it. For the most part they are intensely loyal to their party, and that’s understandable. Why join a party if you’re not going to support it? And probably many Republicans who decry Herrera Beutler’s stand believe she belies the Republican values and standards the party ostensibly supports, although in this case the matter was just about whether or not Trump incited the riot. Believe as you choose about the matter, vote her out of office if you feel you must. What I have trouble with is the sense that a person’s honest sense of conscience in the political arena should be castigated, whether or not you like where that person’s conscience took them.

And in this very issue of The Sentinel, on this very page, along comes more punching between brothers in the back seat while the nation wants to drive to a better place. I’m not saying there aren’t some valid points being made in both parties. Maybe they’re just venting, letting off some of the intense steam from the trying times of late. But do we really want political opponents to be virulent enemies? Do we really want to see mutual respect torn by emotional riptides? There are few who would answer these questions in the affirmative. Where do we go from there?