“The events yesterday in Arizona are a shocking wake up call for all Americans, especially those involved in politics and government.

“While do not know the motives of the individual accused of shooting Rep. Giffords and killing six others, this atrocity is an alarm that we all must wake up to.

“Inflammatory rhetoric coming from both sides of the political aisle has come to dominate our political discourse. It cannot continue. It is time to ratchet down the intensity of our rhetoric both during campaigns and in the course of governing debates.

“Demonizing your political adversary; questioning your opponent’s loyalty to this nation or to a particular group; or statements calling for the torture of your opponent or his or her physical demise belong in the Nazi Party or World War II ““ not in political parties of the United States in 2011.

As a political leader, I ask the members of my party to think carefully about the words and images they use in their political fliers; in their television and radio commercials and on the Internet. I ask the political consultants to use better judgment in guiding their candidates and I would hope the candidates will reject the over-the-top suggestions of the people they hire to run their campaigns.

Political disputes in America are settled at the ballot box, not with the business end of an M-16 rifle. As citizens, we live under the rule of law; we place ourselves under the guidance of the U.S. Constitution, and we accept the will of the voters on Election Day.

I encourage citizens to work for change if that is what they want, but to do so respectfully

The political parties and candidates who square off in elections and who battle on the floors of the legislatures in county administration buildings, or town halls are not enemies, they are merely political opponents. We are all Americans.

We can be proud of our right to free speech, but we cannot abuse it without consequence.

Robert Yudin is the Bergen County Republican Party Chairman.