Voters in Montana faced a difficult choice Thursday in the state’s at-large congressional district election between Republican Greg Gianforte and Democrat Rob Quist. In a bizarre twist of events that seems disappointingly normal in the Trump era, Montana authorities charged Gianforte with assault late Wednesday night. As republican leaders bounded for the woods with tails between their legs, democrats everywhere went rabid calling for the virtual crucifixion of Gianforte.

The media, Twitter, and party-line name-calling and finger pointing erupted in response to Gianforte’s arrest. Amid swirling allegations of corruption at the highest levels of government, suddenly a tiny race in Montana captured the national spotlight.

As the facts slowly emerge, the general sequence of events seems to indicate that Gianforte engaged in an altercation with a reporter from The Guardian. As Gianforte was pressed on the Congressional Budget Office assessment of the American Health Care Act, he allegedly lost his cool. What followed was an unfortunate and violent altercation for which there was sufficient evidence for the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office to charge Gianforte.

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Can restoring integrity solve America’s political discord?

Beyond the typical disquieting partisan bickering, the response to Montana Smack Down 2017 demonstrates the ignoble lack of integrity consuming modern American politics. Neither republicans nor democrats have the principles to stand fast by each party’s general values, policies, or candidates.

Consider that for the past eight years, the Obama administration aggressively pursued a path of criminal justice reform. While reform efforts largely enjoyed bi-partisan support, liberal democratic legislators spearheaded most of the progressive reforms.

None-the-less, yesterday Blue Nation cried and wrung their hands while demanding the maximum incarceration term for Greg Gianforte — casually tossing about numbers as high as 20 years in prison. Twenty years in prison for even an aggravated assault with a weapon would be contrary to many liberal democrats’ recent reform-oriented platforms. Any democrat advocating any prison sentence in excess of the minimum — especially for a first-time misdemeanor like Gianforte’s — merely demonstrates a lack of integrity in party and personal values.

Likewise, the republicans who try to disown the candidate illustrate a certain measure of vertebral feebleness. If republican voters and leaders had the courage to support a presidential candidate who told audiences to “knock the crap” out of protesters, then continue to back a local candidate who stands up to the “enemy” media. If Gianforte is the party candidate, do not abandon him. After all, a fundamental value that no American should stray from is that Gianforte is not guilty until proven so in a court of law. Again, the issue boils down to whether party leaders and voters have the integrity to stay the course.

Wavering is weakness. The ability to remain true to personal and political values in the face of crisis or criticism is difficult, but it is also a reliable measure of individual integrity and the strength needed to be a leader. As it stands, the country is without leadership at almost every level of government and society.

American politics has entered a dark era under the leadership of flip-flop Don. It seems like Washington, D.C. has been reduced to every man or woman for himself or herself — with little regard for the public, issues, or party values. There is an uncertain and divisive “I” looming somewhere in the middle of the capitol. Only a return to “US” will restore balance and leadership to a nation where every person has the courage and integrity to stand by their values.

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