A woman holds a sign outside the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is due to speak Dec. 10 in Portsmouth, N.H. (Darren Mccollester/Getty Images)

Dana Milbank’s Dec. 8 Washington Sketch column, “We could learn a thing or two from WWII-era unity,” summed up most of our political troubles in a most meaningful way, especially for those of us who have known members of the World War II generation. Laura Mays, whom he quoted, was absolutely right in asserting that political leaders aren’t as patriotic as those who sent him to war:  Now, “it just seems like everything they do, right or wrong . . . is [because] it’ll get them somewhere.” That’s the core of our problem.  

Most of our elected leaders work harder at getting reelected or cultivating their post-elected-position career than governing or solving problems we face. And they purposely divide us — rather than unite us as leaders did before, during and immediately after WWII — to further their personal goals. And most media outlets are complicit in their efforts to inflame our divisions because it improves their ratings, sells more newspapers, etc.

I will forever believe we have more in common than seems apparent. We just need leaders who help identify that commonality. But then, it probably wouldn’t advantage them personally.

Sandra Stephon, Fort Washington

In “The American Crisis,” Thomas Paine lamented, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” That is especially true now, as anxious and fearful Americans seek to be safe and secure. Even so, now is the time for us to search out and support leaders who are better than those who persist in pandering to our worst fears and also better than those who sing sweet lullabies of politically correct platitudes. We’re better than that!

The best of u recently was demonstrated by a California hero who gave his life in shielding a coworker in the San Bernardino shooting. He simply said, “I got you.” And so it must be, that we, like Paine, “who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must . . . undergo the fatigues of supporting it.”

Larry D. Kump, Falling Waters, W.Va.

It’s bitterly amusing to hear the fulminating about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. If he’s a monster, then he’s our monster, because we created him. How? In four ways that have converged and come home to roost: 

●Party pandering: In the GOP’s case, decades of trolling for votes by fueling resentment among folks feeling left behind by our changing economy and demographics.

●Gerrymandering: In the GOP’s case again, decades of redrawing district lines to protect party seats that have touched off intra-party war, tipping it to the radical right.

●Campaign finance: Thanks to both parties, the billions of dollars flowing into elections have left everyone completely disgusted and distrustful about Washington.

●Political correctness: While well meaning, the gotcha police have stifled and punished even good-faith speech. Now with college students ready to accuse us of “microaggressions” and reputations ruined with one impolitic comment, why should anyone say anything publicly that’s not scripted, vetted and mealymouthed?  

Mr. Trump is not the problem. We are, especially if we don’t learn the lessons of this election.  

Jeffrey Denny, Washington

Although Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims is wrong in the eyes of the (old) political establishment and other notables, he continues to lead in the polls. Perhaps the reason he leads is simply that he’s listening to everyday people, whereas the political establishment seems not to be listening much nowadays.

Mr. Trump’s proposal may not be constitutionally legal, but at least he introduced a proposal, be it right or wrong. Politicians should stop beating up Mr. Trump and come up with their own proposals to quell the concerns many people have about security.

John V. Daley, Ellicott City

Faust sold his soul to the devil. The Republican Party sold its soul to Donald Trump. He owns it now. He is, indeed, a savvy dealmaker.

Harry Obst, Alexandria