Not Moral Enough

I am a moral populist who is neither liberal nor conservative! The moral populists, though Catholic predominantly, are not necessarily members of the Christian Coalition, nor are they always in agreement with Pat Buchanan's narrow economic-imperialist populism. Your paper, which I have read with some interest, contains many of the ideas that I espouse.

Still, I am not yet entirely convinced that your "progressive populism" is as "moral" as I would want it to be. For instance, in your motto, you state that "[the Newspaper] believes in the Bill of Rights and that the truth shall make us free." Letters.ssarily agree with the points of view we publish."

That's where I begin to be concerned! As a moral populist [I have coined this term myself to describe my true allegiance], I believe that truth is one and indivisible, and that it is God! When, as an example, you publish Rep. Cynthia McKinney's ideas, her beautiful eyes and smile are not enough for me to believe her, knowing as I know, and as you should, that she is so completely amoral, that she fully endorses the partial birth abortions, which most moral people agree are 99% infanticide!

Therefore, for me to be comfortable with your newspaper, two things would have to happen: you would have to change the title to "The Moral Populist," and you would have to specifically disavow the amorality of people like Cynthia McKinney in a footnote, wherever you need to publish her ideas "because you think they are worth sharing"!

And don't get me wrong: Like you, I believe in the government of the people, by the people, and for the people; like you, I want to preserve the Bill of Rights for all people! But this has to be done through moral means, in accordance with a highly moral vision which encompasses all people, including the unborn, and which coincides with the Moral Blueprint of God - the Bible - Source of All Truth!

Bohdan Jan Szejner, P.O. Box 101962, Anchorage, AK 99510

Thanks for the suggestion, but we'll remain The Progressive Populist. We hope that you will be satisfied agreeing with a majority of our contributing writers.

Comprehensive Campaign Reform Feasible, Necessary

Efforts to reduce political corruption seldom advance beyond bureaucratic campaign finance disclosure rules, tepid spending restrictions, unconstitutional term limits and unpopular schemes to publicly finance candidates, their TV hit pieces and self serving advertising. Corruption continues and the quality of the Congress declines.

Until recently there's been little consideration of reforming the campaign process itself, making it voter-friendly and informative, as opposed to candidate friendly and manipulative. There was no plan to reignite the interest of the disgusted majority who no longer vote.

That's why the recent Walter Cronkite endorsement of a Free Candidates' Hour on TV was a breakthrough of sorts. It reflects a recent spate of proposals from the media, the Congress and others recommending a little free air time for candidates who agree to a campaign spending ceiling. Unfortunately the proposal is too modest to be effective.

Free TV exposure for politicians in lieu of cash campaign contributions is much too powerful a notion to be treated with such timidity. The notion of free TV leads logically to free radio time and paid newspaper ads, and space in postage paid mailings, all in lieu of comparable campaign spending. Campaigns conducted entirely in free media would be the ultimate antidote for campaign corruption at all levels of government.

If all candidates received ample access to free media, exceeding in total exposure that of a well-financed individual campaign, wouldn't it be reasonable for voters to require their joint appearance - together - so we can easily compare them? Wouldn't joint campaigning provide more free speech and relevant debate than ever?

Joint campaigning would also provide the opportunity to solve the campaign financing dilemma in a fashion acceptable to all factions. If candidates were presented together in TV, radio, newspaper ads and postage paid mailings, sponsorship of such events would by definition become a nonpartisan civic service. As such it could be financed by nonpartisan tax deductible contributions and/or public service advertising instead of the usual partisan contributions to individual candidates and parties.

The voluntary nature of political contributions would still be preserved; contributions would be stimulated by tax incentives and spread over a broader base; campaign costs would be pared due to economies of scale (It costs about the same to mail a tabloid featuring all candidates as to mail a brochure for one of them). Finally the taint of corruption associated with contributions to individuals would be gone.

Also, the vote by mail experience of Washington and Oregon indicates that voters could receive by mail a handy mail-in ballot so that immediately after hearing from all candidates - on a voter friendly level playing field of mail and TV- we could cast a convenient and informed vote from our homes. Participation would go up; costs down.

In short it's entirely feasible to structure a clean, informative campaign process of competitive ideas instead of competitive fund raising; in media provided free to all candidates; financed with nonpartisan tax deductible contributions and ads; enhanced by the convenience of voting by mail. So how many more decades will it take for an Establishment grown too tolerant of generations of corruption to support such comprehensive reform?

If incumbent office holders continue to resist, a start could be made by a bipartisan coalition of determined private citizens. They could solicit tax deductible funds "United Way" style. They could finance, sponsor and schedule media exposure for local competing candidates who choose to participate in return for their commitment to joint "debate" appearances and severe restrictions on campaign spending.

The concept is simple enough to be easily implemented; the blow to influence peddlers and political hucksters is worthy enough to be supported with enthusiasm and determination by a large bipartisan coalition of concerned citizens. "If we lead, our leaders will follow."

Bill Searle, 10210 N. 64th Place, Scottsdale, Arizona 85253

PS: If this is a good idea, please publicize it. If it's a bad idea, then come up with a better one!

In the frying pan

Concerning the guilt-by-association attacks on President Clinton:

When you can't convict the man
You construct a specious plan
To connect him to a clan
Then you smear the ones you can.

Norman L. Thomas, 1209 North C Street, Indianola IA 50125,

Tax the churches

Your May 1996 [feature], "Believers Tackle Social Problems," ending, "'we must be more explicit about the connections between people's beliefs and faith and their action,' acknowledged the Rev. Leo Penta, a Catholic priest with Philadelphia Interfaith Action. 'We're giving people a way to practice their faith they haven't had before.' " The headline: "Believers Tackle Social Problems." Social problems ultimately are political problems, unavoidably.

President Clinton, in St. Louis, had on his agenda a program with school students. No Catholic students participated. That was called a boycott. In the May 21, 1996 Post-Dispatch, a letter from Monsignor Joseph Naumann, Vicar General, Archdiocese of St. Louis denied a "boycott" because "Tax-exempt organizations, such as churches and parochial schools are prohibited from engaging in partisan politics."

About May 10 or so, I had written the St. Louis Post-Dispatch a letter in response to a very poorly written article, in which I offered the idea that churches are denied freedom to act because they are excused from paying taxes on their wide-spread forms of income.

My letter was not published, of course. The Post-Dispatch is a conservative paper.

I also suggested that if churches paid taxes they could work to bring their beliefs into reality. A side effect of all churches paying taxes, in every type of tax categories, would be a significant reduction in our national debt from recent republican presidents, which congress and the gridlock of our political parties are unable to solve.

As well, the significant reduction of the national debt would allow the consideration of reduction of individual income taxes, particularly difficult on the poor.

To use the word "poor" is bad form, since "needy" is preferred by many newspapers and political entities.

Respectfully submitted,
Joseph O. Fischer, 7561 Hoover Ave., Saint Louis, MO 63117

Hardly a progressive

Your editorial in the March issue names several "progressive Democrats" who have a chance of being elected this year, one of whom was Kathy Karpan of Wyoming.

When Kathy Karpan was running for governor in 1994, she made national news by suggesting that Bill Clinton, as her party's leader, was so liberal that he would be a hindrance to her effort to get elected in Wyoming.

So if old build-more-prisons, end-welfare-as-we-know-it Clinton is too liberal for Kathy, how progressive do you think she is?

Her message is the business-friendly Republican message, meaning that under her leadership, the Democrats would avoid any proposals which could be considered liberal - and certainly she would reject anything that sounded leftist or radical. That's why the Casper Tribune's story on the 1994 state convention, convened Karpan's leadership, was headlined "Democrats back away from strong platform, Emphasize moderate approach to woo voters."

In other words, she led the party toward that place in the political spectrum once occupied by the Whigs in the 1850s - that place where the party doesn't stand for anything and doesn't take a strong position on the major issues of the day.

All the Progressive Democrats should get out of Clinton's Party and help to build a new party, one that is Progressive and Populist.

Sydney Spiegel, chairman, Wyoming Labor Party, PO Box 625, Casper, Wyo. 82602

Get it off your chest

Write to The Progressive Populist. Please include your name and address, since we won't publish anonymous letters. Send them to: Editor The Progressive Populist, PO Box 150517, Austin, TX 78715-0517; Email:

Home Page

News | Current Issue | Back Issues | Essays | Links

About the Progressive Populist | How to Subscribe | How to Contact Us

Copyright © 1995-1996 The Progressive Populist