Letters From the March 20, 2017, Issue

Letters From the March 20, 2017, Issue

Letters From the March 20, 2017, Issue

California dreamin’… How far would the left go?… Weapons of mass action?… Marx, past and future… The people have the power…


California Dreamin’

Thank you for Sasha Abramsky’s article “The West Coast Fights Back Against Trump” [Feb. 27]. My Scottish great-grandmother walked across the Isthmus of Panama in 1850 to come to California. There she married an English man, who had traded in his covered wagon for a cart because it was faster. Thanks to them, I’ve had a privileged life here in our beloved state: fine schools; an annual fee of about $65 to attend the University of California at Berkeley during its golden years; freedom to play in the unspoiled beauty of our woods, swim in the emerald waters of the Eel River, backpack in the Sierras, and mature in the multicultural richness of San Francisco.

The horror of Trump has left us all stressed and sickened. But Abramsky’s article has truly helped lessen the pain and stress we are all suffering. Washington, Oregon, California—yes, of course, the “Left Coast”!

Corinne Swall White
kentfield, calif.

How Far Would the Left Go?

In the lead-up to her excellent discussion of the rewards that Trump voters expect to reap in return for the moral compromises they’ve made [“Religious Right, Resurgent,” Feb. 27], Katha Pollitt claims that progressives, if given the chance, would elect the left-wing equivalent of Trump. That’s slander, sure to be weaponized by right-wingers, and it has to be refuted.

Would I vote for someone who was “kind of a dick” if he promised to enact all kinds of good legislation and the alternative was a “flaming reactionary”? Sure. But Ted Kennedy (the example Pollitt cites) was no mirror image of Trump, and Hillary Clinton isn’t the left-wing version of a flaming reactionary.

Trump isn’t just the most depraved character ever to make it to a general presidential election: By Election Day 2016, it was evident that he posed an existential threat to the country. He’d repeatedly praised dictators, especially Putin, and rarely if ever said a kind word about constitutional democracy. He’d publicly encouraged Russia to hack Clinton’s e-mails; repeatedly attacked news reporters as “the most dishonest people on earth” for calling attention to the ceaseless cascade of lies issuing from his own foul mouth; repeatedly condoned violence against protesters at his rallies; only weakly and belatedly disowned the endorsement of hate groups; and said that if he were elected, he would imprison his political opponent. Every indication was that if he gained the presidency, he would try to make himself dictator.

Hillary Clinton is no socialist—she has always been on the exasperatingly soft left. So let’s adjust Pollitt’s counterfactual to better reflect the reality. Imagine a Democratic candidate whose platform glitters, but who displays a vicious authoritarian streak and contempt for democratic governance and the Constitution, facing off against an Eisenhower Republican. Who would get your vote? Speaking for myself, I’d even vote for John Kasich or Jeb Bush—both far to the right of Eisenhower-era Republicans—if my party fielded a person as terrifying as Donald Trump.

Brian Keeling
spokane, wash.

Weapons of Mass Action?

D.D. Guttenplan’s reporting [“Weapons of Mass Distraction,” Feb. 27] from Youngstown, Ohio—where Barack Obama won by large margins, only to see the area turn to Donald Trump—suggests those voters can’t simply be dismissed as racists. Perhaps it’s time to resurrect James Carville’s slogan during Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign: “It’s the economy, stupid.” Set that as the priority, and then maybe we’ll find common ground on some issues with Trump voters.
Tom Groenfeldt
sturgeon bay, wisc.

With all the focus on President Trump, no one seems to be watching the Senate and the House of Representatives. Dark money has wrapped its tentacles around Congress. What are good sources of information on the actions that Congress is taking with respect to laws that potentially hurt the environment, restrict access to medical care, or enrich the wealthy at the expense of the 99 percent? The text of some of the bills that have been introduced reads worse than the small print on those “As Seen on TV” products.
John Steiner

I am a longtime subscriber to The Nation, and a huge fan. This is the first time I have felt compelled to write in 30 years. In response to “Weapons of Mass Distraction,” I would beg to see a follow-up article with specific suggestions for activism. D.D. Guttenplan writes: “Attending less to Trump’s words and more to his actions might also free up time to listen to the legitimate fears and grievances of his supporters.” This is fine as cultural criticism directed at the Democratic Party, the late-night TV hosts, and the Twitter obsessives. However, I don’t fit into any of the aforementioned categories, and I don’t think my time would be best spent listening to Trump supporters. I sincerely want to spend my time in the most effective way possible to oppose Trump’s agenda. I think there are many of us out here who want to oppose Trump’s actions, who haven’t previously been very politically active, who want to understand how to become involved with effective strategies to block him now and to prevent him from staying in power. Until further notice, we are protesting, signing petitions, writing letters to the editor, and attempting to help the immigrants in our communities. Please show us what else we could be doing at the local level.
Debbie Koppman
oakland, calif.

Marx, Past and Future 

In “Marx’s Revenge” [Feb. 27], Benjamin Kunkel writes: “Marx’s so-far mistaken expectation of working-class revolution is the tragic flaw in his outline.” So far, indeed—and too soon to call it a “tragic flaw.” History is still being written. Perhaps Marxists are guilty of the sin of optimism, but also the virtue of patience. Remember, in 1989, we all thought we’d heard the last of Marxism.
Jim Faris
mountain view, calif.

The People Have the Power

Many thanks to The Nation for publishing the “People vs. the President” forum [Feb. 6/13]. I am particularly grateful to Benjamin Barber and Michael Massing for their insights. Massing’s contribution, “Journalism in Trump’s America,” points to the kind of outreach into Trump territory that all of us need to be doing right now, while Barber’s “Think Globally, Resist Locally” gives me hope that the United States will survive the next four years.
Grace Roosevelt
new york city

Ad Policy