Letter writers had a lot to say this year, with more than 4,800 letters received (and read) by Star editorial staff. Here's a sample of some of the national issues people were talking about in 2017.
Skipping inaugural shows disrespect
Rep. Raúl Grijalva did not attend the inauguration. Shame on him and all the others who choose to disrespect the traditions of this country and the office of president. He apparently missed his Civics 101 class that taught how to honor the office without agreeing one way or the other about the person.
When I was elected to public office, I considered it the highest honor of my life. I feel saddened that someone who wins an election can take that honor so lightly that it is used for some cheap political point. I will celebrate the remarkable accomplishment of our democracy and enjoy this peaceful transfer of power.
We'll miss the class of the Obamas
As President Obama leaves office and is replaced by Donald Trump, I hope we all reflect on the last eight years. Perhaps never and certainly not since Eisenhower have a president and his family comported themselves with such dignity and class.
Obama and his family, despite being under incredible pressure and scrutiny as the first African-American family in the White House, behaved beyond reproach. In these last eight years, there has not been even a hint of scandal. Obama showed us his full range of emotions.
His integrity shined through whether crying for victims of gun violence or expressing anger at a Congress that refused to address this issue. Obama was always respectful of and worked for those who were least fortunate in our country and only unleashed his rapier wit on those who were most powerful.
'Poodle' comment offends dog lover
As a poodle owner and dog lover, I very much resent recent articles calling Donald Trump 'Bannon's poodle.' Poodles are smart, thinking dogs who learn quickly. They are alert and curious and prefer peace and harmony. They are not naturally aggressive. If only Donald Trump emulated these characteristics!
Obamacare should be a human issue
It doesn't make sense to repeal something that gives so many Americans health care. I am one of very few who have not needed it, but that doesn't mean I don't care what happens to others. Whatever needs to be fixed, fix it and make it better.
Republicans should be ashamed that they have waited some six years because they are using it as a political issue, not a human issue. I think it would've been fixed long ago if the Senate, House of Representatives and all officials had to carry the same health care as the rest of us. What makes them so special as civil servants? Please don't repeal it, fix it!
Give Trump tweets special treatment
Maybe the biggest question facing our nation is: What to do about Donald Trump's tweets? We don't even know what they are, other than brief electronic messages. Policy statements? Tactical distractions? Tantrums? Insomnia relief? Colic? In any case, Trump's tweets have us in a tizzy. By 'us' I mean the news media.
Nobody seems to know if they should be taken at face value, translated by Kellyanne Conway, laughed at or ignored. Here's my idea: Instead of letting the day's tweetstorm dominate the entire news cycle, outshouting actual news, just run one without comment on your editorial page or homepage, maybe in a box with 'Today's Trump Tweet' or some other header. Every media outlet could pick its own favorite tweet of the day.
I'd suggest running them on the comics page, but I don't want anybody to call me a hater.
Dems, GOP scuffle, we're in the middle
When I was in school, there a was a joke going around wherein two people would ask you if you 'want to see a fight between us.' If you answered 'yes,' then they would start flailing on you from either side. Currently we have two political parties that are constantly escalating their words and actions.
The issues between them have been festering for decades, if not centuries, but starting with the Bill Clinton campaign we saw the institution of what I call the 'Rove protocol' that basically says anything you do to win is OK. The more these tactics worked, the more they got adopted by the other side. So now we have the Democrats starting to act the way the Republicans did during the Obama administration and the Republicans blaming them for not showing unity for the new president. Seems we are doomed to forever see 'the fight between them.'
The younger generation lacks logic
I am acutely aware of the change in logic demonstrated by the younger generation from the logic I have in my super senior status. The proclamation I hear is that we need a bridge, not a wall, with Mexico. A 'no wall' has allowed over 11 million illegal persons to occupy space in our country. My thought is to ask the question 'How did the 'no wall' work out?'
Another of my many questions is the position that the rich aren't paying their fair share. Since it is reported that the top 20 percent of Americans are paying 86 percent of the taxes, I am put out to understand how much more they are to pay before the rich stop investing their monies into businesses that create jobs. I would hope the 'fair share' people would tell me.
From these two examples, it is obvious that this old person's thinking needs to be upgraded by more classes in our liberal universities. I am falling behind in acquiring modern-day logic.
Trump supporters are standing by our man
We — Trump supporters and advocates of the Republican agenda — are still out there. That's despite the almost universal hatred of Trump by Democrats and the left-leaning reporting of most of the media, often based on anonymous sources. Why?
In my case, it's because Trump was the least bad of the four principal candidates for president. I like many of his Cabinet choices and some of his policies, including his efforts to put health care on a more sustainable basis, to reduce unlawful immigration, to limit immigration by potential terrorists, to strengthen national defense and to promote school choice. I don't like the man, but that is unimportant compared to what he does or fails to do.
Comey's dismissal should bring outrage
Where is the outrage over the way James Comey was terminated? Areal man would call the man to his office and have a discussion. A gutless man would at least call the man on the phone. Where does Trump fall into this scenario? Mr. Comey finds out by a note passed to him while talking to his troops, 3,000 miles from his home base. Have we lost all respect for our fellow human beings?
Let's end agony, adopt single-payer system
Obamacare, Trumpcare, Whatevercare. I'm sick of hearing the bickering and lying. Why can't Congress go straight to single-payer? Huge tax increases, you say? Countries all over the world pay higher taxes and have virtually all health-care needs covered.
For everyone. Including people like my husband, who is in a home with advanced dementia. I've added up what I pay in premiums, co-pays and extras over a year and can honestly say I would gladly pay that amount in taxes to be free of all the anguish and anger dealing with greedy insurance companies. And I'd happily kick in extra for those who are going without any coverage at all. How lucky I would be! Wouldn't you?
GOP leadership should speak out on Russia
Republican leaders from Ronald Reagan to Mitt Romney have warned us of the dangers to America inherent in Russia's political agenda. Members of Congress and senators from the right side of the aisle have stood together as one to preach the evils of the Russian state.
Now we have a president who cozies up to Russia and makes a pal of Putin. And he is — allegedly — a Republican. It is time for the members of the right to stiffen their backbones and say stop, Russia hasn't changed. Be wary! If Russia can influence an election today to help our side, it can easily run an operation against us next time. But the leaders of the party and the rank and file remain mute. Only a very few, like Sen. John McCain, speak out. The Grand Old Party isn't so grand anymore.
Credit citizen voices for foiling GOP plan
So after two years of promising to replace Obamacare with something tremendous and beautiful, Trump's promise now joins all the others on which he's turned his back. And why did repeal fail? The president says it's the Democrats' fault; some Republicans say it's the fault of other Republicans. The fact is that this failure was nobody's fault, other than the people who drafted the dismal act.
Rather than finding who's at fault, we who raised our voices and sent letters and emails and who made phone calls to our elected officials should get the credit. We citizens have only a few ways of expressing our feelings to politicians, especially those who have stopped holding open meetings. It's our responsibility to let them know what we think, what we want and what we'll do if they don't truly represent us. I'll gladly take credit for what I did and I hope you will do the same.
Work with Trump to make things better
The establishment Republicans are threatened that they may go down the drain as President Trump keeps his promise to drain the swamp. They're afraid they will be replaced. Look, this is the first time in awhile that we hold the WhiteHouse, the House and the Senate, so what is the holdup? Now the Democrats have to come on board and put differences aside and work with POTUS.
His Cabinet are strong men and women who are working hard to make American great again. We have a conservative Supreme Court justice so that the court is balanced. I have to say to Americans, President Trump is trying to undo all the bad Obama put into effect, all that has harmed our nation. If you love America, then work to make it better and work together.
Arizonans should be proud of their senators
Regardless of your political leanings, Arizonans should be proud of their senators for taking public stances against the ever-more-dysfunctional Trump administration. Sen. John McCain was the deciding 'no' vote on the 'skinny repeal' legislation targeting the Affordable Care Act. The vote took courage and dealt a significant blow to President Trump's agenda.
Sen. Jeff Flake has publicly opposed Trump since 2016, refusing to endorse him throughout the campaign. More recently, Flake appeared on 'Face the Nation' to criticize the president and has written a new book that does the same. While I often don't agree with either politically, I am proud they are representing Arizona at this time. They have taken principled stances that most elected officials in their party refuse to do. They should be praised and encouraged.
Nazi sympathizers are traitors to America
On a cold day in January of 2006 my wife and I stood among a sea of crosses and stars of David that fill the World War II Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial in Margraten, Holland. We stood and cried as we reflected on the ultimate sacrifice of these Americans, many barely 18 years old.
What I watched in Virginia on Saturday made me sick and gave mea bad taste in my mouth that will not go away. To see Americans, my fellow countrymen, waving Nazi banners- flags of death, oppression and hate- is very hard to swallow. These people must be called out for what they are: American traitors.
Domestic terrorists, jihadists share a lot
After the terrorist act in Barcelona, I considered the differences between 'those' jihadist terrorists and 'our' white supremacist terrorists. I could only find one. Both recruit — using the dark recesses of the internet — young men who are marginalized, repressed, undereducated and unhappy.
Both appropriate religious iconography to put a veneer of divinity on their causes, but really it's just an excuse to focus on hatred of Jews. Both groups prefer to operate under a cloak of anonymity, knowing that the broader community would shun and shame them. Both use whatever means possible to inflict public damage on the targets of their hatred; whether it be guns, bombs or vehicles.
So what's the difference between the two? One group, the president wants to execute using bullets dipped in pig's blood. The other, the president calls 'very fine people.'
Removing Trump won't solve our problem
Some Democrat, and even a few Republican, politicians have called for the impeachment of President Trump. This is a futile exercise because Trump is not our problem. The separation we Americans feel from one another is our problem. Trump is merely a symptom. We've split ourselves into disconnected factions.
One side rejects the other's established facts, denies the other's motives and says the other side's real desire is nothing less than the destruction of our democratic system. Both sides watch different news sources and cling to different social and political values. It is not simply two parties with a common goal, but different ways of reaching that goal. It is like two cultures, with separate world views.
Removing Trump from office will not bring those worlds together. To do this, we must engage in a national discussion based on supportable facts and reasonable argument. If we can do this, the Trump problem will take care of itself.
Trump has betrayed 'dreamers'
Like Pontius Pilate, President Trump washes his hands and seeks to avoid personal responsibility for ending DACA by dumping its ultimate fate in the hands of Congress. He then tweets that if Congress does not act, he will 'revisit' his decision. How can he revisit a presidential action that he claims was unlawful when then-President Obama created DACA?
Is there anyone out there who actually believes he will look out for the DACA recipients that he so publicly claims to love? If you count yourself among those who support President Trump's decision, you need to re-examine yourself and figure out why you would want to punish children and young adults whose only crime is that they were brought here by their parents. They had no say in the decision.
Athletes' protests respect flag's meaning
Kneeling during the national anthem should not be viewed as disrespectful to the flag or to American veterans. This peaceful protest shows great respect for what the flag symbolizes, what veterans fought for. Athletes are pointing to inequities in our nation and asking they be addressed so the republic for which the flag stands can truly rise to its promised glory.
That republic is supposed to be 'indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.' Clearly, many citizens- especially our black citizens- are not fully afforded that liberty and justice. Also clearly, we now have a man in the White House who, either by ignorance or design, is making this nation divisible. Let's focus less on approving or disapproving the protest format and more on the resolving the issues that gave rise to it.
Sorry, but kneeling is disrespectful
There is a lot of controversy on the NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. I believe kneeling during the anthem shows disrespect for the flag. I served in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive, and I disapproved of the war. I also condemn police brutality, crime and murder. I also have the right to protest and march and support those who share my ideas. But I will never, ever disrespect our flag.
Addiction to guns brings latest slaughter
The recent mass slaughter in Las Vegas was a horrifying expression of our country's addiction to guns. The United States holds the world record for the number of its citizens who own guns and for the number of its citizens who are killed every year by guns. The Second Amendment was written to assure the anti-federalists that each state could form its own militia. Yet it is commonly construed as expressing the right of every citizen to have the means to instantly end the life of another person. Maybe what we really need is a cure for America's addiction.
The ongoing fight for the GOP's soul
As Sen. Jeff Flake so eloquently described his reasons for the deplorable political climate his party and President Trump have led us into, I continue to wonder every day why the Republican base has consistently closed its eyes, ears and mouth to the complete lack of decency in Trump's actions from the very beginning.
The party lost its soul when it elected a president who has shown none of the qualities of a decent human being and has even elevated him to a fake standard of a genuine Christian. It boggles my mind. While I'm thankful for Sen. Flake's eventual repudiation of his party's moral fiber, it would have been much more meaningful a long time ago before the election.
Terry and Joyce Minks
Trump shows chutzpah in Franken abuse case
The classic illustration of 'chutzpah' (loosely translated from Yiddish: 'Now that's nerve!') is the man who kills his parents then throws himself on the court's mercy because he's an orphan. Let's replace that with the assaulter-in-chief trolling Sen. Al Franken for a stupid, tasteless encounter with a USO performer. Franken mock-grabbed her breasts and deep-kissed her during a rehearsal. (Leann Tweeden accepted Franken's apology. He agreed to an ethics investigation).
Yet 16 women accuse the president of far worse, including sexual assault. 'Liars!' says he who bragged on tape about grabbing women. If by some miracle Congress launches an ethics investigation in his case, remember their names: Cathy Heller, Jill Harth, Temple Taggart, Cassandra Searles, Kristin Anderson, Lisa Boyne, Karena Virginia, Mindy McGillivray, Rachel Crooks, Natasha Stoynoff, Jessica Drake, Tasha Dixon, Samantha, Holvey, Ninni Laaksonen, Summer Zervos.