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In the Politics & Prejudices column “Choosing the next president” (Metro Times, May 14-20), Jack Lessenberry writes that “None [of the Democratic candidates for President] would appoint Ashcroft or Rumsfeld or anyone nearly as bad to high policy-making positions.” I would not be too certain of that statement. Clinton appointed Janet Reno, who used chemical weapons on American civilians at Waco, Texas.

Government abuse will occur whether under a Democratic or a Republican administration. The lesser of the two evils is still evil nonetheless.

As long as the government has sweeping powers, politicians will be able to grant favors. As long as politicians can grant favors, they will sell them to the highest bidder, and we will be on the losing end.

The quickest way to end the abuse and corruption is to take the power away from politicians, and put it back into the hands of the people. The Libertarian Party is the only political party that runs candidates who support reducing power in Washington. That is why the Libertarian Party will receive my vote in 2004, regardless of who the Democratic nominee may be. —Jim Allison, allison10@comcast.net, Warren

Time for surrender

I want to thank Jack Lessenberry for the word-picture of him toddling down Cass Avenue in a tux and top hat, as well as for what I interpret as the earliest concession of the 2004 presidential election by a Democrat anywhere.

As to the notion of Jack’s positing an “inevitable” assault on the streets of Detroit; it occurred to me that in the Michigan cities that are bastions of Republicanism — Birmingham, Grosse Pointe, Rochester, Ada, Traverse City — Jack actually could toddle down the street, wearing whatever he wanted to, at whatever hour of the day he chose, and have little concern about being assaulted. So much for a Republican war against freedom.

As to his appraisal of the Democratic presidential field; it seems so utterly dismal, with John Kerry, John Edwards, and Howard Dean leading the pack, it would appear to be a concession editorial. But Republicans are advised to keep focused on the economy, stay with the business at hand, and look forward to a vote of the American people in another 17 months. —Charles Brown, Franklin

Pruning the Bush

In order to remove Bush from the White House a unifying Democratic candidate is needed. But we should not focus on the superficial qualities of candidates in lieu of their previous achievements or the feasibility of their plans.

We have criticized Senate Democrats for not taking a stand on principles, and this criticism is justified. Why, then, should we evaluate a Democratic presidential candidate on the basis of likablity, instead of focusing on ideas and accomplishments?

A Democratic president might make changes in policy and personnel, but that will be for nothing if voters settle for the candidate whose main strength is being immune to smear tactics.

Consider the phenomenon of low voter turnout. People don’t vote because they see no difference between candidates or between parties. Potential voters might view things differently if our collective scrutiny is on achievements and ideas, rather than on controversy and punch lines. This kind of coverage and public pressure would force candidates to run on issues, not sound bites. That so many people are uninterested in voting is an epidemic that progressives must address in order to re-create politics based on rational, relevant factors and not propaganda. Only then can progressive populists win. —Brian Sammons, Philadelphia, Penn.

More than money

Props to Noah B. Stephens for challenging people to think about the societal and cultural context of hip hop (“White people, black music,” Metro Times, May 7-13). People are so often inundated with images of “bling-bling” and “cash money” that they overlook the very real system surrounding hip hop that is used to oppress blacks and other people of color. —Ixta Menchaca, reeela@aol.com, Ann Arbor

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