Down the Rabbit Hole

In “Against Purity Tests” [Nov. 19/26], Katha Pollitt briefly mentions the policy weaknesses of the leading Democratic presidential candidates. When she comes to Bernie Sanders, she frames his weaknesses in terms that are personal, not political (with the exception of his views on guns). According to Pollitt, Sanders is not only too old but has a “radical/hippie past” filled with “weird sex writings” and “no steady job until he was almost 40.”

Pollitt and mainstream Democrats should be reminded again before the next election that Sanders was unlike the candidate they strongly backed in 2016. Sanders, for example, never supported the Iraq War, never looked the other way when the Honduran military overthrew the country’s elected government, never suggested Edward Snowden was a possible Russian spy, never attacked the women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual abuse, and never counted as allies Goldman Sachs, Henry Kissinger, and even, for a time, the Trumps.

Howard Elterman
new york city

Could ageism be at work in the animus toward Elizabeth Warren? Pollitt’s excellent article on those “happy to consign Warren to an early political grave” comes at the same time as endless speculation on whether Nancy Pelosi will be given the speaker’s gavel next year. I am older than both women, and I am truly furious. I, for one, keep on learning as I age, and I know they do also.

My new congressperson, Anthony Brindisi, is among those who pledged not to vote for Pelosi. Our district has thousands more Republicans, so I get it. Nonetheless, I replied to a survey Brindisi made the mistake of sending me by writing: “Mr. Brindisi, if you accomplish in your career one half of what Nancy Pelosi has done for our country, you can retire with honor.”

Sandy Miley
sherrill, n.y.

Bird Is the Word

Thank you for the brief article about the retirement of Sesame Street’s Carroll Spinney, who played Big Bird for nearly 50 years [“Big Bird Gets a Pension,” by Leah Rosenzweig, Nov. 19/26; in print only], and the comments about politicians who continually try to cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

I can attest to the value of Sesame Street and the many other offerings of the CPB. In 1973, my daughter started kindergarten, and on her first day at school, she picked up a book and began reading. When the amazed teacher asked her where she had learned to read, my daughter replied, “On Sesame Street.” Within a week, she was advanced to first grade.

I’m sure many others could tell similar stories. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting plays a vital part in learning, for children and adults.

Walter Everett
lewisburg, penn.

Forgotten Victory

I enjoyed The Nation’s pre-election edition [Nov. 12], but you missed a cataclysmic development in Michigan. What is progressives’ greatest nemesis, one that precipitates endless hand-wringing? Gerrymandering! And what happened on November 6? Through initiative and petitioning, a grassroots movement in Michigan called Voters Not Politicians eliminated gerrymandering in the state.

What this victory means is that in the future, district lines will be drawn by a randomly selected Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. Moreover, no politicians can reverse this democratic triumph, since only another vote by the electorate could do so.

Other states would do well to study and replicate what just happened in Michigan. Once citizens of goodwill understand what gerrymandering is and how it perverts our democracy, thousands (including many who were never politically involved previously) rush forward to support the cause.

Michael D. Stanton
flushing, mich.

Dump the Hump

Re “The Dual Defeat: Hubert Humphrey and the Unmaking of Cold War Liberalism,” by Michael Kazin [Nov. 12]: During the late 1960s and early 1970s, one of the most damning insults among our politically active group was to call someone a “Hubert Humphrey liberal.”

I have seen no overwhelming evidence since that we were wrong in this regard.

Harry E. Antoniou
redondo beach, calif.

Fly in the Ointment

In “The Wave Hits a Wall” [Dec. 3/10], D.D. Guttenplan writes, “Although he may be anathema on the coasts, Trump’s support in flyover country remains a powerful asset.” That illustrates our problem as progressives: That’s not flyover country, that’s the United States. The sooner we stop disparaging our fellow citizens living beyond urban centers and college campuses and take seriously their concerns, the sooner we’ll reclaim the White House and Senate.
Nathan M. Appel
kensington, md.

Re “Destination, Lancaster,” by Jimmy Tobias [Nov. 12]: Would it be too much to ask that The Nation refrain from using the offensive phrase “flyover country” to describe regions comprising tens of millions of people, vitally important farmland, and some of the most beautiful natural settings in the country? It makes the magazine look ignorant and conceited and certainly does nothing to build bridges with people who might be considered natural allies. Granted, as long as the magazine takes this attitude, people might just as soon you did fly over, but it’s personally and politically stupid and surely unworthy of a magazine called The Nation.
Katharine W. Rylaarsdam

Road Map for Change

Re Jimmy Tobias’s “Destination, Lancaster”: I’ve been keeping some distant tabs on Lancaster Stands Up since The Nation’s first article on the group, in May 2017, to see how they’ve been progressing. This article is a great follow-up. It has been interesting to watch the effects of LSU’s passion and tactics.
Robert Andrews

It’s worth remembering that Lancaster’s congressional representative during the Civil War era was the great and powerful abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens, who led the ultimately unsuccessful fight for a transformative Reconstruction encompassing economic (40 acres and a mule) and political justice for formerly enslaved people.
Steve Morse

History Repeats Itself

In 1935, The Nation published a series of articles on the forerunners of American fascism. Any chance you could put some of them into upcoming issues? I think it would be most enlightening.
Clare A. Lake
hartford, conn.