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Opinion | How to Counter Pro-Trump Extremism

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letters

Oct. 13, 2021

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 Credit...Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images



To the Editor:

Re "We Are Republicans With a Plea: Elect Democrats" (Opinion guest essay, Oct. 12):

Miles Taylor and Christine Todd Whitman, in their laudable appeal to moderate Republicans to reject the horror that is Trumpism, ask Democrats to be "open to conceding that there are certain races where progressives simply cannot win," and to use our votes pragmatically to defeat conservative extremists.

It is too modest a request. I would go further and say to progressives that it would be a suicidal error to see this political moment as the opportunity to push American governance to the left. The more extreme the Congressional Progressive Caucus seems, the more credence it gives to the extreme right's cartoonish characterization of Democrats as socialists.

And I say this as someone whose political beliefs are far to the left of most Democrats. I believe in the redistribution of wealth, in free higher education, in universal single-payer health care, in reparations for slavery and its consequences, in gun control … but more than any particular political initiative, I believe in democracy, and it is democracy itself that is under assault by the extreme right.

We, the people, now need to put aside our personal preferences and unite behind the principles so eloquently articulated in our founding documents. If we cannot do that, this great experiment will have failed.

David Berman

New York

To the Editor:

This guest essay is spot on. As a Republican from 1980 to 2016 and a New Jersey resident for 30 years before recently moving to California, I yearn for the days of former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman's administration and honest, rational and moderate Republicans.

The current Republican Party's refusal to support the actions needed to slow global warming presents an existential threat to all humanity; the denial of the safety and efficacy of vaccines presents a deadly threat to Americans; and, as Miles Taylor and Ms. Whitman note, the denial of the election results presents an existential threat to democracy.

And so I crossed the line and voted Democratic in 2016 and 2020 and will likely continue to do so. But moderate Republicans must tread carefully when embracing Democrats. Democrats' "progressive" policies pose their own threats. California, my new home, is Exhibit A. California is the most populous and richest state, yet the poor and middle class struggle to afford to live there.

The Democrats pose their own existential threats to the nation as the far left talks of defunding the police, disbanding Immigration and Customs Enforcement and implementing social programs without any concern for how to pay for them. So while I agree with Mr. Taylor and Ms. Whitman, I urge caution in navigating this new path.

Frank Peretore

Brentwood, Calif.

To the Editor:

If Christine Todd Whitman and Miles Taylor truly believe that our democracy is imperiled by both the sitting and hopeful Republican politicians, and that the only way to combat this threat is to join forces with Democrats to defeat them, then why are they placing a litmus test on the Democratic candidates?

If democracy itself is truly at stake, does it matter whether a candidate is a little too progressive when it comes to taxes or regulation? Should we risk losing democracy because a candidate is pro-choice or wants "Medicare for all"?

Opinion Debate Will the Democrats face a midterm wipeout?

It seems to me that if the choice is between democracy and autocracy, the only litmus test should be "do you believe in and support democracy in America and does your record prove it?" Everything else is irrelevant at this point.

Duane Nelsen

Chicago

To the Editor:

Here's the only way, I believe, to stop Donald Trump from winning the 2024 election if he decides to run. Liz Cheney runs for president from a new third party, the Conservative Party. Membership in this newly formed party could be Lincoln Project Republicans, Never Trump Republicans, disenchanted Republicans who switched to independent and secretly anti-Trump Republicans.

The new Conservative Party would be a party of patriots, because they would know that by splitting the Republican vote, their party would rob Mr. Trump of enough votes to win. Their candidate would also lose, but these patriots would have saved America's democracy. Another possibility is that Mr. Trump, seeing the predictable loss, might decide not to run after all.

Florence Adams

Orleans, Mass.

To the Editor:

I agree with Miles Taylor and Christine Todd Whitman that the future of our country depends on a coalition of moderate Democrats and Republicans who join forces to defeat Trump extremists, conspiracy theorists and insurrectionists. I am a lifelong liberal Democrat, and it pains me to acknowledge that bi-party centrism may well be the only effective antidote to the political extremist threat posed by a post-Trump Republican Party.

A move toward moderation on both sides of the political spectrum is necessary to preserve our freedom and democracy.

Eric Nadelstern

Bronx

To the Editor:

Miles Taylor and Christine Todd Whitman are correct. The country and democracy's future are at stake these days and Democrats must prioritize doing everything possible to hold and expand their majority in the next Congress. They should welcome efforts by reasonable Republicans to join them. Two things are required.

First, it is absolutely necessary that Democrats show voters that they can accomplish much while in office, and a modified reconciliation bill that expands the safety net, even if not to the extent most Democrats favor, plus the bipartisan infrastructure bill will be a major victory.

But, second, they must combine this accomplishment with smart selection of candidates who are most likely to win in 2022, even if they are not the most liberal.

Mr. Taylor and Ms. Whitman point out the perfect example in Conor Lamb, a moderate Democrat with a real chance to flip the Senate seat in Pennsylvania. Tim Ryan, another moderate Democrat, could flip the seat in Ohio. Democrats, including the liberal wing, need to accept that these candidates would have the greatest appeal in a moderate state, not just to blue-collar voters, but also to moderate Republicans.

The burden to save democracy in America has landed on Democrats, and they may have just one chance. They need to bring in every possible voter, bury intraparty squabbles and focus on winning elections. From now until 2024 that is all that matters.

Marc Springer

Brookline, Mass.

To the Editor:

I have always thought that Democrats who want to help the "rational Republicans" recover their party instead of encouraging a third-party effort could cross over and vote in the Republican primaries, where that is allowed, in districts that are considered safe Republican. The logic behind this is that who wins in the Democratic primary is less important than who wins in the Republican primary, since the likelihood of the Democrat winning in the general election is remote.

This general philosophy, of voting in the election that has the greatest importance, could also be employed by Republicans who live in solidly blue districts. The overly gerrymandered system we now have has created numerous districts where it's all decided in the primary. The way to bring the two parties together is to move each party to the center where deals can be made. And that can be done by using crossover voting as a strategy.

Mark Lederer

Seattle

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  Credit...Andrew Kelly/Reuters

To the Editor:

Re "F.D.A., in First, Gives Backing to E-Cigarette" (front page, Oct. 13):

The decision by the Food and Drug Administration to give market approval to R.J. Reynolds for its Vuse e-cigarette is catastrophic. This is especially so during a pandemic, when we need major national public health agencies to provide clear, accurate, evidence-based guidance on policy. We don't need the F.D.A. giving its seal of approval to tobacco industry products and initiatives.

In its press release, the F.D.A. claims its ruling "permits" e-cigarettes but that does not mean "F.D.A. approved." That is a distinction without a difference in consumers' eyes, and far worse than that in the greedy hands of the tobacco industry.

A truly catastrophic day for public health.

Stan Shatenstein

Montreal

The writer is editor and publisher of STAN Bulletin: Smoking & Tobacco Abstracts & News.

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A container ship arriving at the Port of Savannah in Garden City, Ga., last month. "They're not coming to get their freight," complained Griff Lynch, the executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority. "We've never had the yard as full as this."Credit...Erin Schaff/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re "Pileup at Port Is Becoming a Quagmire" (front page, Oct. 11):

I find it frustrating that there are pileups of freight in Savannah, Ga., and the Port of Los Angeles because of a lack of truck drivers. There are thousands of people at our southern border who would be delighted to be truck drivers. Let them in.

Anne Barschall

Tarrytown, N.Y.

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Sean and Shanna Westaway enjoy doing separate activities while spending time together at home in N.C.Credit...Cornell Watson for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re "Let's Ignore Each Other in the Same Room" (Thursday Styles, Oct. 7):

In detailing the pleasures of parallel play for partners, friends and roommates, you do not mention the relationship that may benefit most of all: that between parent and teenager.

Being quiet but nearby, whether in the same room, house or car, with your mercurial teen, rather than attempting to engage with them, is often the only way to be with them.

Daphne Uviller

Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.

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The Carnetts' garage is now as curated as the house.Credit...Robert Rausch for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re "A Time for Just Letting Go" (Real Estate, Oct. 10):

When just letting go, please do so responsibly. I volunteer at a nonprofit that gives gently used goods to people being moved into housing, and sells high-value items to generate operating revenue.

We receive a high volume of unusable donations. Do not donate stained, torn or broken items just because "someone" could use it. Do not donate china with metal rims, old paperbacks or Norman Rockwell plates; no one will buy them.

You are shifting disposal costs to us. Throw them out yourself, or do the work of finding a place that might want them. This is a big problem for those on the receiving end of decluttering.

Karla Forsythe

Portland, Ore.

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