Letters to the Editor

We Need a United Left in Election

I want to re-emphasize the point you made in a recent editorial, i.e., a fractured left leads to the election of a Republican president. You referenced 1968 as the model for that, and I wanted to detail for you and your readers the turmoil of that year and explain why, as a Bernie Sanders supporter, I will vote for Hillary Clinton if necessary.  

1968 was my first presidential election. I was born and raised in California and, at that time, in my first year of seminary in Marin County. I had classmates who were in the draft resistance, and also who served jail time after being arrested at anti-war rallies. So the war and anti-war activities were a constant presence in my personal life. 

The year began with the Battle of Khe Sanh, and the Tet Offensive, in which the Viet Cong proved that, far from being beaten, they were able to strike cities all over South Vietnam, including Saigon. February saw the Orangeburg Massacre, with three black students killed by police at South Carolina State University. In March, LBJ defeated Eugene McCarthy in the New Hampshire primary, but by only 49% to 42%. This led Johnson to drop out of the race at the end of the month. Robert F. Kennedy announced he was running for the presidency. The My Lai Massacre in which 347 Vietnamese civilians were slaughtered also occurred in that month.

In April, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Riots occurred all across the US with 110 cities affected. Thirty-nine people killed, 20,000 arrested and 65,000 troops patrolled the streets of America. Also in that month, LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968.

In June, after winning the California primary, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated.

The August Democratic convention in Chicago attracted thousands of protesters. Police riots led to many injuries and arrests, while the protesters chanted “The whole world is watching!” The Democrats picked Hubert Humphrey, the sitting vice-president, as their candidate. His political nickname was “The Happy Warrior.”

After all these events, there was no way I was going to vote for Humphrey. In the November election I wrote in Eugene McCarthy. Richard Nixon was elected as President.  

The left was indeed fractured in 1968. A few years later I saw the raw vote totals for California 1968. If all those who wrote in Eugene McCarthy or Eldridge Cleaver had voted for Humphrey, he would have carried California and won the election.

I will vote for Bernie Sanders in the Oregon primary. However, if Hilary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, I will vote for her in the general election. A Trump presidency would be a disaster for the country. I do not want a repeat of 1968. The left should not be sitting on the sidelines in this election; we must be engaged in such a way that a Democrat wins the presidency, and if it is Clinton, push her to the left by our support.

A united left can deliver the Presidency to a Democrat and with continued effort make the progressive agenda a reality.  

James P. Freda Jr.
Portland, Ore.

Stay Awake, Liberals!

Here in West Virginia, both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Rodham Clinton are campaigning (and, as an added attraction, Billy Graham is in town). I have already early-voted for Bernie in the primary; I feel quite certain he will carry W.V. (which is anti-status quo) but will then lose to Donald J. Trump in the election (again, anti-status quo).

In the changing/rest room of the local gym yesterday, I had a near-violent altercation with a “gentleman” who, claiming to be both a doctor and able to name all 50 states in under three minutes, was, to put it mildly, pro-DJT and anti-HRC. Last week in this same venue I was asked if I attend church (W.V. has a certain rough charm but is an acquired taste). While I am a bit embarrassed about the shouting match, I nevertheless write this letter to plead with all TPP readers to not only vote for the Democratic candidate but to also robustly display their preferences.

One might suppose such a letter as this to TPP readers is unnecessary. I would have agreed, but now that I see first hand the magnitude of the passion generated and the slipperiness of DJT’s current “gentrification” campaign, I am shaken: resisting DJT will be like standing firm in a tsunami.

Undoubtedly most TPP readers feel that Washington D.C. is corrupt. And these same discerning readers will note that DJT’s policies are arguably roughly equivalent to HRC’s on the left-right political spectrum. How thrilling to be a part of an historical overturning of the corrupt ancient regime! Perhaps we will re-write the national anthem!

No, no, no. Even Bernie said “enough on the e-mails,” and that HRC on her worst day was better than DJT on his best. The corruption of Washington, D.C., is real but over-stated. The crises that we face are the same: real but exaggerated (the exception, of course, is the eco-crisis which may turn out to be truly existential). However heated the Democratic primary gets, we must work for whomever wins; however refreshing it is to hear sacred cows gored, however overwhelming the DJT wave appears, we must visibly and loudly oppose it.

The Donald seems to be morphing before our eyes into a oleaginous father figure who will tuck us in at night and take care of us; HRC, by contrast, promises only more of the same rough sledding we have had of late. It is quite understandable that Americans wish to get out of the frying pan.

Resist this lullaby! Stay awake!

John Palmer
Charleston, W. (by god) V.

HRC’s War Vote No Mistake

Your editorial [“Play Hard But Nice, Dems,” 5/1/16 TPP] too casually accepts Hillary’s Iraq war vote as a “mistake.” She and her supporters would have us believe that her vote to invade Iraq was a mere voting error brought about by false information. But the consequences of that vote have been disastrous. And her culpability should not be dismissed so cavalierly.

Yes, there was false information, plenty of it, but it was her job to vigorously investigate its validity. This she didn’t do. As an extremely hands-on former First Lady for eight years, she was certainly acquainted with all the major Washington players; and, with her credentials, could have easily contacted all the pertinent international sources, as well.

Any responsible expert, from ambassador Wilson to Richard Clarke to UN weapons experts, knew that the neo-con plan was a snowjob; from the very right-wing conspiracy she had warned about previously. Yet she followed her interventionist instincts and sided with them anyway.

Those instincts are with her still; from advocating for a direct air assault on Libya (aptly named “Hillary’s War” by the Washington Post) which overstepped the UN mandate permitting only a no-fly zone, to still advocating for one in Syria which will, in all probability, escalate the conflict and put us in direct confrontation with Russia.

Her interventionist policies are wrong-headed and dangerous.

Robert McAllister
Lantana, Fla.

Free Trade Transit

Re: Mark Anderson’s article in the 4/15/16 TPP about “Free Trade Superhighways.”

If the F in the FAST Act truly stands for “Fix,” Priority One should be urgently-needed repairs on bridges and roadways already worn out by excessive shipping traffic.

Assuming we really need extended trade corridors, here’s our chance to give up oujr live affair with cement in favor of railways. I’m no economist, but it seems pretty obvious that 100 trucks require more pavement, gas stations and motels than a 1000-car freight train. Add some passenger service, and Americans could (once again) travel the land without playing dodge-em with huge semis.

But, gee, that wouldn’t be any fun for the deal-makers …

Betty Crowder
Honeydew, Calif.

Sanders Gets By Without Harrop

I am responding to Froma Harrop’s screed [“Bernie Should Stick to the High Road”] in the 5/1/16 TPP. I’m really sorry that Sen. Sanders has not evolved into the type of candidate she could admire. She spends the bulk of her article criticizing and mocking him. It occurs to me that Bernie has for the most part stuck to his salient issues and eschewed personal attacks. After all, it was Clinton who first inferred that he was not ready to be President and had not done his homework. He has comported himself like a gentleman, and has rightfully probed Clinton’s campaign and tactics. He also has drawn enormous crowds, energized many new voters, and given old lefties like myself to finally have someone to cheer for. Do all of his plans for Medicare, free college tuition, and universal health care pencil out well enough to satisfy the likes of Paul Krugman? Of course not. His proposals represent goals that we should be striving for to enrich in many ways most Americans. In addition, unlike his opponent, he seems very reluctant to send troops, sanction, or bomb anyone Uncle Sam finds “unacceptable.” He is 74, has been a Mayor, Congressman, and Senator, calls himself a “Democratic socialist” and has a few barnacles on him. He is not perfect, but he is good. He sure as hell does not need Harrop’s advice on how to juice up his legacy. Win or lose, there is a good chance history will be kind to Bernie Sanders.

Henry Thompson
Seattle, Wash.

Zealotry Divides

As a parent of four adult children in their 40s and 50s, 11 grandchildren in their 20s and 30s, and soon to be a great grandchild this coming August, it behooves me to my very core how a parent’s purported “deep Christian beliefs” can usurp the trust and innate feelings in any parental relationship. The story in People magazine (1/19/15) of a young transgender teen Leelah Alcorn committing suicide is but one of the many I’ve heard or read about, and just felt I, as an aging octogenarian, wanted to express my deep disgust of how we’ve regressed as a society and in our humanity to “others.”

I presume it’s the assumption of believing the rhetoric of individuals within once respected higher positions of authority such as Speaker of the House or previous and present Presidential candidates denigrating 47% of our population “as others” along with the hate being spewed regarding “the others” of varying faiths, colors and ethnicities. It’s the Roman Empire strategy of “divide and conquer” coupled with the “Pied Piper” scenario, that is behind this quest for additional corrupting power of ideological and religious zealots.

Frank C Rohrig
Milford, Conn.

From The Progressive Populist, June 1, 2016


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