Opinion

The Challenges Faced by the Democrats

More from our inbox:

  • A New University Throws Down the Gauntlet
  • Spending Money for People, Not Wars
  • Unvaccinated Home Care Aides

 Credit…Oliver Contreras for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “A Woke-Up Call for Democrats,” by Maureen Dowd (column, Nov. 7):

Ms. Dowd is ignoring what the president and the Democratic Party are up against in trying to save America from disaster.

On the one hand, we have a truly inclusive, diverse and truth-telling Democratic Party that struggles to achieve a policy consensus on extraordinarily complex issues. On the other, we have a monolithic, largely wealthy, white-male-dominated, authoritarian Republican Party that has coalesced around the Big Lie, white supremacy and voter suppression (among other things).

On the one hand, we have Democrats trying to arrive at rational policies (based on actual analyses of facts) to invest in the country’s people and infrastructure, and climate change mitigation, and pay for it with modest tax increases on corporations and wealthy people. On the other, we have Republicans doing everything possible to undermine President Biden with propaganda claiming that Democrats are socialists who want to increase the deficit (forgetting what Donald Trump’s tax plan accomplished), and control what we think and teach.

On the one hand, we have a president who is struggling to get a deadly pandemic under control with sensible vaccine and mask mandates. On the other, we have Republicans using disinformation, lawsuits and other maneuvers to stop these efforts and prolong the pandemic — and then having the audacity to criticize the president as incompetent and feckless.

Is Mr. Biden really not “up to the job,” or are Republican lies, distortions and authoritarian propaganda making his job almost impossible? Is Ms. Dowd’s plea that Mr. Biden needs “to become a much better salesman” more important than being an honest statesman?

Steven A. Silber
Philadelphia

To the Editor:

I’m afraid that progressives tried to bend the moral arc of the universe so hard that they broke it. Their goals for doing so were worthy, but the messages voters got were all wrong. Next time, I hope both progressives and “moderates” (using the term lightly) will hash out their differences more behind closed doors instead of in public.

Merilee Griffin
Haslett, Mich.

To the Editor:

After four years of this country’s flirtation with authoritarianism, I think Maureen Dowd forgot that democracy is messy. Yes, this is what it looks like when the party in power considers different points of views, achieves compromise, values people over corporations and is not in lock-step with a wannabe dictator.

Personally, I’d much rather have the messiness, lack of single-minded messaging, and a genuinely kind, if a little befuddled, leader of the free world rather than a tyrant who tries to weaponize the Justice Department and overthrow an election. Or is that just me?

Kristin Porter
Oakland, Calif.

A New University Throws Down the Gauntlet

“People are self-censoring and not having the kind of vivid discussions that used to be the hallmark of higher education,” the inaugural president of the University of Austin said.Credit…Stacy Sodolak for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Organizers Plan New University They Say Will Defend Free Speech” (news article, Nov. 9):

The new University of Austin says it will teach “Forbidden Courses” that other universities fear to touch. But this is a tired canard that makes one question the new college’s claim to speak the truth.

As a professor of government and law at the University of Texas at Austin, I welcome a start-up to the neighborhood. But why the falsehoods about higher education? Like other great universities, we already teach courses from free-market economics to socialism, from racial progress to racial troubles.

One wonders whether a commitment to teaching the bad as well as the good in U.S. history isn’t what brings us under attack.

Jeffrey Abramson
Concord, Mass.

To the Editor:

I hope that my midteen grandsons will find a university that has reconnected with its original purpose: to encourage the discussion of differing ideas and attitudes and expansion of students’ knowledge without prejudice or subservience to contemporary attitudes. With American leadership at stake, surely what is needed are broad-minded and knowledgeable thinkers without preconceived biases.

It is not known that Socrates changed any of his ideas in deference to the ideas of the citizens of Athens.

Lois Taylor
Stamford, Conn.

Spending Money for People, Not Wars

The U.S. Capitol building.Credit…Samuel Corum for The New York Times

To the Editor:

As conservative Democrats whimper about how big a number the proposed social policy bill represents — now whittled down to $1.85 trillion over a decade — let’s put this number in perspective.

Based on the $778 billion the United States lavished on our military in 2020, the U.S. will devote nearly $8 trillion to military spending over the next decade. That is more than the next 10 countries combined.

Spending $1.85 trillion to help Americans live better lives and to address the unfolding catastrophe of climate change seems a modest investment by comparison. If we reduced the U.S. military budget to “only” twice as much as China, the second highest spender, that would more than offset the entire cost of the Build Back Better proposal.

Shouldn’t we be deciding how much more war we can afford, not how little we can get away with in support of Americans’ human needs?

Mitchell Zimmerman
Palo Alto, Calif.

Unvaccinated Home Care Aides

Jim Lewis of Boise, Idaho, holding a picture of his mother, Donna Lewis, who caught Covid while in a nursing home, despite being vaccinated.Credit…Tamara Kenyon for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “When Caregivers Shun Shots” (Business, Oct. 21):

It’s not just unvaccinated nursing home staff who pose a threat to the loved ones whom we’ve entrusted to their care. What of the health aides we’ve invited into our parents’ and grandparents’ homes? They can cause just as much harm as their peers in congregate facilities.

Case in point: my mother’s unvaccinated daytime caregiver, who became quite comfortable walking around without a mask and whose attempt to call out sick in late August was rebuffed by her agency. That caregiver tested positive for the virus, and though my mother thankfully did not contract Covid, she lost the consistent care she’d been receiving. This led to a different health issue requiring her hospitalization and rehabilitation.

All we can do at this point, aside from pray for her full recovery, is rage against the agency that admitted to me that it doesn’t require any of the aides it dispatches to be vaccinated or even to be tested regularly. Ultimately, though, the blame for this failure has to be placed on our state governments and the C.D.C. for not implementing common-sense protocols to protect the most vulnerable among us.

John Woodmaska
Kearny, N.J.

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