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David Cook

One week ago, I wrote that Tennessee Republicans had lost their moral center, no longer reflecting the values and virtues conservatism once held.

This, you might imagine, generated a lot of response.

"Stupid," one email began.

Today's column, then, belongs to you — your praise and your criticism.

What follows is a fair sampling of messages from this past week. Maybe we can learn from each other.

» "I did not vote for Donald Trump for his moral attributes," a reader named Judy emailed. "I looked at my country quickly becoming a socialist nation. One more term with an Obama would have just about accomplished that."

Judy believes Obama is a Muslim who did not love America fully, yet admits he is a very good husband and father. At 75, Judy's seen enough history to know the dangers our country faces.

"I do not want to see our nation follow the European model of socialism," she said.

» The midterms were particularly disturbing for one reader named Carla.

"I watched with disbelief the television ads that maligned Gov. Bredesen for speaking of bipartisanship rather than taking a hardline, extreme approach to government. I don't understand the blind allegiance that people give Mr. Trump, and I resent the implication by some that 'real Christians' would support Mr. Trump and his policies," she said.

» One conservative friend named Don emailed a thoughtful reply. (This is just a smidgen.)

"Regrettably, it appears more and more that unicorns are more prevalent than honest, civil politicians," he began. "One political party, in my view, is largely evil in its precepts, and the other is less evil. Neither is attuned to America's best interests. I agree that President Trump's conduct quite often aligns with that of a narcissistic buffoon. Given that, he is a whole lot more wholesome in terms of his patriotism and commitment to America's security and well-being than the Obamas and Clintons, whose corruption and misdeeds are beyond description and certainly beyond comprehension by most Americans who are constantly swayed by a highly biased and disingenuous mainstream media."

» One reader isn't aligned with either party. He just wants a qualified and reasonable ballot of candidates.

"I'm not anti-Republican at all," Jeff said. "I am anti-idiot, anti-bigot and anti-dictator wannabe."

» Multiple readers said they'd left the GOP.

"As a former Republican, I share your opinion that the GOP has lost its soul and is now the Party of Trump, particularly in Tennessee. Good for you for walking out of that rally where gullible people were gathered to worship their deplorable leader. I, too, am a white, middle-class Christian male with rural roots. But I ashamed at the direction that the Republican Party has taken over the past decade," Tim said.

Tim believes the evangelical church's embrace of Trump will end in disaster.

"No wonder people are leaving Christianity when Evangelical Christians have supported this man and his agenda," he said. "Know that there are other people like you in the Chattanooga area. We are not the majority, we are not as loud and angry, but we are here."

» Multiple readers miss the example John McCain set.

"I find it hard to believe that so many people could support a person who insulted a hero like John McCain," Gary emailed.

» Multiple readers are grieving.

"I bawled like a baby and went through a box of tissues the night that Trump and Blackburn were in Chattanooga bombastically and unashamedly lying to the crowd," Suzanne said.

» A longtime reader named Tim fired back at my column.

"We aren't going to be 'demonized' anymore by you lefties without fighting back," he emailed. "Go ahead and use the 'poor' card, or the race card, or the Russia card, or whatever card you people come up with and we will use the TRUMP card and beat you every time."

For Tim, what comes around, goes around.

"You guys can't keep insulting us and not expect us to be pissed off. No matter your tone, what you wrote are fighting words and if you want a fight," he declared. "We will not give in to your form of government...ever."

» Finally, one reader named Jim said the real moral decay is the left's fault.

"Think Cultural rot rampant in Hollywood," he began. "Think Antifa mobs on the street. Think disrespecting the American flag. Think no respect for immigration laws in America."

Jim's a vet and a Republican. We've emailed back and forth in this Trump era, often disagreeing deeply with one another.

Yet Jim, like many of you, is my teacher of sorts. In the midst of our disagreement, Jim reminds me of the supreme power of kindness.

Jim begins his email with two special words.

"Brother Dave," he opens.

Then comes the politics and all the ways we disagree.

But before signing off, Jim ends his email with six more words.

"With respect to my fellow Chattanoogan."

David Cook writes a Sunday column and can be reached at dcook@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6329.

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