Ideology, Not Party Process, Dogs the Democrats

The Opinion page column, "How Bush Will Win in '92," Feb. 18, seeks to explain why the Democratic Party has been so unsuccessful in recent campaigns for the White House. Unfortunately, there is little evidence to suggest that a party apparatus which is competent enough to elect congressional Democrats is somehow too inept to aid presidential candidates.

In the past two decades, politics has become much more of an "individual sport." Candidates in both parties assemble their own campaign staffs, draft their own platforms and raise their own money. The party serves as an additional resource for these campaigns, both for local candidates and presidential hopefuls. If, as the author suggests, state and congressional candidates do not enlist in the national campaigns, it is usually because they have not been invited to do so by the party nominee.

The real problem is not the process. Few Democrats want to return to the smoke-filled room method of candidate selection. It is that a majority of the American public does not agree with the ideology forwarded by Democratic presidential nominees in recent elections.

If George Bush wins the 1992 election, it will be due to the inability of the Democratic nominee to bridge the ideological gap between blue-collar Democrats and those party supporters who are more interested in pursuing a liberal social agenda. Peter Rex, Olympia, Wash. Tsongas's nuclear policy

The article on the New Hampshire primary, "Bush Gets Warning, Democrats Battle On," Feb. 20, underemphsizes the fact that Paul Tsongas, who has been out of political office for some time, had a remarkable victory.

Mr. Tsongas certainly showed the country that he is a candidate of national potential. This is most clearly shown by his informed and realistic view of nuclear energy. It would have been easy for him, as it was for the other Democratic contenders, to placate the vocal nuclear opposition. He did not. Ironically, former California Governor Jerry Brown, who had ridiculed Tsongas for his support of nuclear power, finished last.

The country needs to hear what Tsongas is saying about energy: the finite nature of oil, gas, and coal, and the possible catastrophic consequences of global warming mean that nuclear power cannot be abandoned.

Many environmentally concerned voters agree with him that nuclear power must be included in the energy mix of the United States, where it provides 22 percent of the electricity and is a weapon in the battle to clean up the air and cut our reliance on imported oil. Nuclear power provides an even larger share of electricity in countries such as France, Germany, South Korea, and Japan, with whom we are competing in the world marketplace. Gilbert J. Brown, Westford, Mass. Presidents on the big screen

The article "The Presidency in Films," Feb. 14, is an interesting portrayal of the American president in the movies. However, the author leaves out the most monumental tribute to the presidency in Hollywood history: Darryl F. Zanuck's production of "Wilson" (1944) directed by Henry King.

This film, made in the midst of World War II, is a strong affirmation of the role of the president in guiding America as the leader of the democratic forces of the world. Though often too reverential, and verging on hagiography at times, the long (2 1/2 hour) movie is one of the very few political films ever produced in Hollywood. Not surprisingly, it was a critical success with five Oscars, but a notorious box-office failure. Fred Meston, Alexandria, Va.

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