“Debate is to war what trial by jury is to trial by combat; a way to settle a dispute without coming to blows.”

— Jill Lepore in “These Truths: A History of the United States”

Sadly, this is not true in Trump’s era.

During the 30 years preceding the Civil War, shootings, knifings and fist fights occurred in the

U.S. Congress. Now, in President Donald Trump’s time, vitriol is reaching new levels like then, as pipe bombs are added to the conflict overtaking the slander of “Liddle Mark” Rubio or “Pocahontas” Elizabeth Warren or kneeling NFL players.

Trump doesn’t debate; he vilifies, using lies and half-truths. He degrades with insults of enemies, Republicans or Democrats. It’s not surprising that his words have stimulated threats of violence just as in the 1850s before the Civil War. Now pipe bombs, next assault rifles.

In all the Republican “debates” in the last election, Trump personally and politically attacked the 14 or so Republicans vying for the presidency. I don’t remember one moment when Trump didn’t go out of his way to ridicule or vilify everyone on the stage. It was the same with “Crooked Hillary.” I think this is verbal war.

Now Trump, almost two years in office, has expanded his vial rhetoric to previously friendly democracies in the European Union while he puts his arm around Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un. This as he threatens treaties established to lessen the possibility of war or strengthen the weak over the strong like Ukraine over Russia. Trump is the ultimate trasher spreading vermin.

What we have with Trump is an emerging warmonger, someone who sees the world, other than his political base, as did the Pied Piper of Hamelin piping town children toward destruction.

He likes dictators and autocrats because he is one himself.

Richard H. Keller, Salt Lake City