Political Party Rules Are Less Important Than a Candidate's Ideas

As a lifelong Democrat I read with interest your series "Democrats and the Presidency," Jan. 27, 28, and 30. However, the underlying reason for Democratic presidential failings went unmentioned.

The comments of Susan Estrich are illustrative. In 1980 Jimmy Carter's campaign was foundering, and Ms. Estrich, then a member of the Democratic Party platform and rules committee, threw him an anchor.

Today she regrets this and wants to rewrite the rules. Better she should ponder why her platform was an albatross; why local Democratic candidates disclaimed it; why voters rejected it.

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Carter's election in 1976 was not a fluke. Jimmy Carter saw that the severest problems facing America have solutions which are moral and spiritual. Democratic leaders ridiculed this idea and have alienated voters who recognize that these problems are not amendable by legislation.

This antipathy toward moral and intellectual values discourages good candidates from coming forward and renders victory impossible when they do.

Neither the party nor the country is served by a philosophy of leadership which believes that changes in party rules can substitute for a critical discussion of ideas. S. Dreith, Clay Center, Kan.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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