Is this really what we want?

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Partisan death matches sow discord all across America.

ACCORDING TO WEBSTER, the word compromise is defined thusly: "Settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions; something intermediate between or blending qualities of two different things."

Also, according to Webster, the word comity is defined: "Friendly social atmosphere; social harmony."

Friendships thrive on comity and compromise.

Marriages cannot survive without comity and compromise.

AND THEN there's politics, where career politicians often give lip service to such concepts - but then choose sides and approach those who disagree with daggers drawn and a snarl.

The visuals from last week's presidential State of the Union address perfectly illustrate the point.

On the Republican side of the aisle, members of the House and Senate bounced up and down like popcorn cheering President Trump's every point.

On the Democrat side, members largely sat on their hands, now and then rising to cheer the most common bromides, like praise for the troops or for a welcomed guest in the gallery.

It has been that way at State of the Union addresses for years - the party of the incumbent cheers wildly, the opposition party broods and scowls - but still the divide seems particularly wide today.

SOME MIGHT ARGUE that's because Donald Trump occupies the White House and is the most divisive president ever to sit in the Oval Office. There's some truth to that. Yet students of history know there have been other presidents in the past who were singularly loathed.

At least as important, if not more so, is the sorting by political partisanship within the modern population. Studies show increasing polarization, with many Americans deliberately choosing to live, work, socialize and recreate in ways intended to minimize if not eliminate contact with different-thinking people. Significant portions of the population even admit they would be angry if a son or daughter dated - let alone married - a person with divergent political views.

IN THAT CLIMATE, it's not exaggerating to say both sides seem to redefine compromise in this way: "Compromise means you should adopt my views."

And comity? Apparently, that means: If you want to get along, you'd better go along.

It's easy to find fault with the politicians, and blame all this on Trump or national and state Democrats and Republicans.

It's a lot harder to accept our own individual share of the blame. In large measure, though, politicians reflect the people they represent. If the Democrat and Republican constituencies want their representatives to fight to the bloody end, while punishing any who dare to compromise, that's the kind of government we'll get - and it will spill over into discord in our neighborhoods and communities. There will be wild swings from right to left and back again, as one side or the other gains temporary sway.

Or does anyone truly believe their side will prevail and the other will surrender, for all time? That's just ignorant. And destructive.

Here's the really big question: Do we, as a nation, value the United States? Then act like it, and demand the same from elected representatives.

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