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Feedback 2/22 

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Some things never change

I applaud your editorial in the February 8 edition ("The risks we face in the next race for mayor"). I have been a registered Democrat for almost 52 years and I have voted in every presidential election since 1968.

The election of 1968 motivated me to become involved in supporting two women in a subsequent school board election in Elmira. They were running for two open seats along with two men who were members of a group called "COST-Citizens Opposed to Soaring Taxes."

COST was a very thinly disguised conservative group that wanted to cut virtually every progressive program from the school budget. One of the women had been a local black civil rights leader for many years. The other woman was a liberal white community leader from the upper-middle-class section of town.

The teachers union and the entire minority community backed the two women. I recruited three college students to make phone calls on Election Day from my home, my parents' home, and my brother's home.

I spent the entire day driving people to the polls and coordinating phone calls. Other supporters of the two women did the same. The women won the seats.

After the election, I found out that several calls were made asking people to vote only for the white liberal candidate with no mention of Bessie (the black candidate).

This was not a big surprise to the black community, but it was a lesson in the reality of politics for a naïve and idealistic young college instructor. Recent Rochester city elections illustrate that some things never seem to change even after almost 50 years.

The 2016 presidential election (like 1968) had a number of factors that led to the result — in particular, the Electoral College system. However, the inability of a liberal democratic candidate to make connections with the average voter and vested economic and social interests of upper-status groups were also major factors.

The Democratic Party has to take a good look at itself and change its entire approach to elections on every level in order to successfully combat the current "Through the Looking Glass" nature of the current presidential administration and Congress.


Competitive primaries are good for Dems

I'm extremely disappointed in the February 8 Urban Journal article. Though it's never stated directly, there is the constant insinuation that this year's competitive mayoral primary can only lead to destructive results. All in all, an entire page of text was devoted to this message: "Democrats have options in this primary: two black people and one white person. This is concerning."

The title warns us of the "risks" in this mayoral race, though "racial tensions will be heightened" is as specific as it gets. It's quickly pointed out that Lovely Warren and James Sheppard are black, Barnhart is white, ergo racial divisions. So, all primary candidates need to be of the same race these days to keep things manageable? Is this really the Rochester we want in 2017?

After repeating how worried you are throughout, the article closes by saying that the local Democratic Party could accomplish great things. Instead, Democrats are getting ready to "tear their party further apart."

Are you not ashamed at this sensationalism? You blatantly equate a presumed three-way primary (with racial diversity nonetheless) to tearing a party apart. This is the same kind of nonsense that contributed to the big losses for Dems in 2016. A strong party is the result of airing supposed disagreements, not suppressing them.

I agree with your call for Democrats to be unified and strong in the face of current Republican administrations at all levels of government. This robust unity will be achieved through competitive, diverse primaries — not by hanging on to the status quo in fear of "further division."

It won't happen by invoking identity politics at the first sign of intra-party competitors, but instead by waiting to discuss and analyze the platforms (in other words, the true substance) of the individual campaigns.


The military is destroying us

The imperial overreach of the Washington war machine has reached staggering proportions. A more suitable name would be the "Department of Lard and Blubber" since the Pentagon continues to waste billions of dollars under the false cloak of national security. There's no one out there to challenge us in the air or on the seas; from now on it will be isolated terror attacks, which are almost impossible to stop.

It's ironic that the most powerful military in world history is also the cause of our downfall as a nation. We are crumbling from within; pouring billions of dollars into maintaining our precious empire of 700 military bases across 130 countries.

Instead of rearranging the rubble in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Middle East, let them determine their own future. Wake up to the fact that there is NO solution for peace in this region, and save billions of dollars and precious American lives in the process.

But what about access to almighty oil? Let "Big Oil" defend its own interests by hiring mercenaries to do the job that our military has done for them for decades.

It's time for Congress to grow a backbone and stop approving one bloated defense budget after another. It's time for the American public to finally transform from lambs into lions, and dictate to clueless politicians that it is they who serve us, not the other way around. And if they don't respond, it's time for American citizens to take our country back using any means necessary.


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