Letters to the Editor

Readers write about liberalism and the results of the Democratic primary in Texas.

How liberalism has changed, and affected America

In response to Walter Rodgers's March 18 Opinion piece, "Liberalism is gone – don't let tolerance pass with it": The piece raises an important question for all Americans. A few years ago, my professor in a PhD seminar on civil society would challenge us to conjecture what form of government might follow a liberal democracy. There was a popular debate in academic circles at the time that liberal democracy might be the end of history. Mr. Rodgers's fear of losing tolerance is certainly an important one, but in our seminar we worried more that a continually right-leaning democracy would ultimately end in totalitarianism.

Jay Putt
Setauket, N.Y.

Regarding Walter Rodgers's recent Opinion piece on liberalism: The liberals are gone but have been replaced by the "progressives."

Many people in this country get confused by the current labels of liberal and conservative. Labels and positions are always evolving with time in our society. For example, compassionate conservatives like George W. Bush are actually the old liberals. Prescription drugs for the elderly and funding for AIDS prevention in Africa are both liberal positions. I am not taking a position on whether the elderly should or should not have that benefit; it is the label the person is wearing that I am writing about.

The progressives need to take a new look at European history. They confuse a dictator with someone on the right, but the truth is, Hitler, for example, presided over the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazi). All opposition was crushed under that banner.

Modern progressives seem to want little or no debate on issues but would rather shout down all opposition and not give them a chance to be heard. This is happening at many of our universities today.

Watch out for labels. Instead, look at what the person actually does, not what he says.

David Gent
Vicksburg, Miss.

Regarding Walter Rodgers's recent Opinion piece on the decline of liberalism: The essence of liberalism was tolerance, not government programs. Liberals forgot that, and in fact raced to embrace the "big-government liberal" label placed on them by conservatives. There are important liberal causes that desperately need defending and that don't need big-spending government programs. These include equality under the law, environmental responsibility, respect for other nations (especially our allies), and personal freedom, to name a few. But "liberals" took up as their causes reverse discrimination, public funding for nonsense like "self-esteem training," and endless pork. Our country has dumped them because they lost their way.

Charles Hsu
San Francisco

Regarding Walter Rodgers's recent Opinion piece on liberalism: The reason conservatives are not ready to give up the benefits of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. is that the government has taken money from all who have worked to earn a living over the years.

Most who have paid Social Security and Medicare taxes will receive a pittance in benefits compared with what they could have earned on their own investments.

So now we should be ready to give up even the little bit we will get back of our own money? I don't think so.

Jim Morgenstern
Hoschton, Ga.

Clarify Clinton's Texas win

Regarding the March 6 article, "Democrats' long battle is a GOP boon": Why are you still reporting that Clinton won Texas? She didn't. She only won the popular vote in the primary.

Gerald Smith
Chino, Calif.

[Editor's response: The article about the outcome of the Democratic elections on March 4 should have more fully explained the results in Texas, which has both a primary and a caucus. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won the primary, which awards about two-thirds of Texas' pledged delegates. Votes in the caucus – which awards the remaining one-third – were still being counted at that time. They are still being tallied and are not expected to be announced before March 29.]

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