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An unidentified man takes a photo of an oversized American flag flying outside the headquarters of Joe Biden in Wilmington, Del., on Nov. 6, 2020.

Jose F. Moreno/The Associated Press

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Exit stage left?

Re Donald Trump Is Not Going To Go Quietly (Editorial, Nov. 5): As U.S. President, Donald Trump has abandoned long-standing international friends and celebrated dictators; weakened NATO, the World Trade Organization and climate accords; shredded trade agreements; expressed affection for racists; cheered heavily armed supporters wandering through crowds protesting injustices; issued edicts against racial and ethnic groups; allowed children to be jailed, separated from their parents and lost track of in the detention system.

As he exits the stage, he sows doubt upon the democratic institutions and processes that have served the U.S. since its birth. Someone should be asking, “Who benefits from all of this?” then recall the term “useful idiots.”

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Ab Dukacz Mississauga

The demographics of Donald Trump supporters have been well-studied, and shed important light on his sustained popularity.

While being white, middle-aged or older, low-income and little educated are strong predictors of Trump support, the strongest factor seems to be agreement with this statement: “People like me don’t have any say about what the government does.” In other words, these people feel powerless and disenfranchised.

Bottom line: A huge swath of Americans feel left behind. They have been.

Matt Kensington Halifax

Re The Election Shows The United States Is A Broken Country (Nov. 5): While so many were hoping for a clearer repudiation of Donald Trump, I believe a landslide for Joe Biden and a sweep of Congress would have likely prolonged the intense polarization, anger and disenfranchisement of so many Americans.

A slim Biden win and a split Congress will likely usher in a post-Trump administration with a distinct flavour of national unity, and a gentler healing recipe for the United States.

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Andreas Souvaliotis Toronto

Ready for reform

Re Home Is At The Heart Of The Indigenous Prison Crisis (Opinion, Oct. 31): By sharing his personal story of trauma, incarceration and successful transition to a full life outside of prison, contributor Ryan Beardy allows us to see the extreme challenges that Indigenous youth face in Canada.

With prison populations still so heavily weighted with Indigenous people, it looks like Canada is still not doing enough to repair the damage that residential schools did to Indigenous families. As a country, we should do more to support others in moving toward more fulfilling lives.

Mr. Beardy’s Healing Together men’s group sounds like an excellent step toward repairing some of that damage. I wish him every success.

Tracy Cooper Toronto

An Indigenous man I know, who was imprisoned for too many years, describes jails as universities of bad ideas. Warehousing people because they have broken society’s rules, with others who have done the same, makes no sense to me.

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I find it a misnomer to refer to jails as correctional facilities. We should be trying to correct potential offenders upstream – not in the deep end when it is too late, too expensive and most often ineffective.

The citizens in our overused and overcrowded jails are not aliens. Too often they have simply become alienated because of homelessness, poverty, mental illness, drug addiction, lack of role models or cultural estrangement. Jails are destroying their hope and dignity.

The federal government should be leading the conversation on prison reform. Despite its condemnation of mandatory minimum sentences, the practice has still not ended. This will not solve the problem, but it should be seen as an essential start to unshackling the justice system, and ending undignified, unjustified incarceration in Canada.

William Trudell Chair, Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers; Toronto

Tweeting in the name

Re Trolls On Parade (Opinion, Oct. 31): Contributors Chris Tenove and Heidi Tworek aver that we all must play a part in better managing our volatile emotions and prejudices. Perhaps so. But lawmakers can help, too, by not condoning shameless and unethical behaviour and instead treating Canadians with respect.

They should be answering serious questions in a serious manner, spurning spin doctors and recognizing obvious but uncomfortable truths. Were they behaving in a seemly and honourable manner, we would be so much less provoked.

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David Allen Edmonton

In my late eighties and a Luddite to boot, I am grateful to have escaped the scourge of uncivil tweets.

I liken trolls to anonymous letters sent out by the armchair protesters of my age group, who never had courage to sign their names and face retribution. In my naivety, wouldn’t the majority of “abusive," “profanity-laced insults” come to a halt if social media companies insisted on public identification? Doesn’t this come under the catchphrase “no names, no pack drill?"

Riva Ellinson London, Ont.

Less than seven million Canadians have active Twitter accounts, less than 20 per cent of the country. (I have one, but I haven’t posted anything, or responded to any tweet, in at least five years.) It is further estimated that 10 per cent of Twitter users account for 80 per cent of all activity on the site, meaning that of less than 2 per cent of Canadians, only an even smaller number spew hatred.

I commend contributors Chris Tenove and Heidi Tworek and others for their work dissecting the Twitter trolls who harass politicians and their staffers to spread vitriol. However, the media and a great many academics seem to treat these trolls as a realistic barometer of discourse, and thus amplify the views of a fringe minority.

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Julian Reid Toronto

Mainstream direction

Re Joe Rogan’s Podcast Offers A Vital Canvas For New Perspectives And Critical Thought (Online, Oct. 31): I take contributor Rav Arora’s minor point: Joe Rogan’s podcast is interesting. And I appreciate the fact that it gets young people thinking. Both creditable features.

A thousand years ago, William F. Buckley Jr.'s television show Firing Line more or less did the same thing. One thing Mr. Buckley didn’t do, though, was host people whose ideas were ridiculous by any rational standard. Mr. Rogan recently hosted conspiracy theorist and Sandy Hook-denier Alex Jones – again. He has also hosted Gavin McInnes, the Canadian extreme right-wing founder of the Proud Boys.

I believe that giving a mainstream patina to these views is harmful to public discourse. No serious broadcast, with any sense of responsibility, would do this without some satirical purpose (consider Dick Cavett’s infamous 1970 interview with Lester Maddox, then-governor of Georgia and widely acknowledged racist). Certainly Mr. Buckley – whose ideas I rejected, but grudgingly respected – would not have done so.

Todd Stubbs Barrie, Ont.

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