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
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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,
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
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.
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
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.
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