One campaign ad accuses an opponent of tax evasion, another of accepting bribes, another of breaking the law, etc. etc. etc.

I have been told I need to do my homework to find out who is telling the truth and who is lying. I have been voting all my voting years and, at 71, surmise that a reliable source is as easy to find as a sunny day here in Minnesota this fall.

A local professor told WCCO-TV: “The reason we have so many negative ads is because we have so many competitive races.” Obviously, competition is not bringing out the best in the candidates.

Based on the ads, I really don’t think it makes much difference who gets elected, because the major parties just keep pointing the finger at each other and blaming gridlock for not getting anything done. Compromise and respect are just buzzwords. (Always strikes me funny how vile the politicians can be in front of the camera, then they go off and play a round of golf with a person they just blasted.)

Another two years pass — another four years pass — and nothing gets done except never-ending political investigations. In past elections, I more often than not have voted against someone rather than for someone, and even then I am often disappointed on how the person I voted for is “representing me.”

I love this country. I love our freedoms. I hope that somehow, someway, future generations will bring truth and dignity back into the political arena. In the meantime, I think I will just pray for our country.

Marilou Sommers, Avon, Minn.

• • •

I have two suggestions for those of you who are running political ads.

First, when you use harsh and negative language to describe your opponent and their views, do you realize that you are essentially using the same language to label all their supporters? When you say “vote them out of office” and “good riddance,” I feel that you are saying to me: “Get lost, and good riddance.” I am your neighbor, your brother or sister, your boss, your employee or co-worker. I am a fellow citizen. If you think that this will change my mind, you are wrong. I feel offended and feel a need to deepen my opposition and wonder if I should use the same negative language about you and your supporters. Is this what you intend?

Second, it would benefit our country more in the long run if you simply stated your position and contrasted it honestly with your opponent’s position and let the voters decide. Losing an election for you should not be the end of the world.

I believe the same thing applies to those of you who advertise on matters important to you and the candidate you may support, even though it is not directly endorsed by the candidate. For love of country, for the sake of good stewardship, for love of your neighbor, be kind, be thoughtful, be good. I, for one, hope we can be a community of people who work together to make our country the envy of the world.

Sidney Teske, Roseville

• • •

Christine Barrette’s Oct. 10 commentary on our two-party system hits the nail on the head. Ideological partisanship is tearing this country asunder, and almost every politician, regardless of political persuasion, is fueling the fire. Her prescription of voting the rascals out — all of the rascals — is emotionally satisfying but in these troubled times not plausible. Politicians, after all, are reflecting what they believe to be the direction of the majority of their constituents. And they’re largely correct — that’s why they keep getting elected.

But what of the silent majority — not the conservative right that once co-opted this title and is now far from silent — but the real silent majority: centrist independents? Neither party speaks to or for this huge middle group that simply wants the bickering and obstructionism to end. When some group begins to focus on this segment, all the hope for government efficacy Ms. Barrette expresses in her piece will begin to emerge. Neither of the two major parties has the political courage to abandon their respective bases in search of the middle, but that’s the only realistic hope of an enduring republic.

James Phelps, Bloomington

• • •

A double dose of lazy cynicism was on display in Wednesday’s commentary by Christine Barrette and, separately, a letter about climate change. Both accuse their targets of wanting the public’s money, with no evidence offered or apparent in either case.

The climate change letter claims that the newspaper’s headlines about the topic are repetitive and meaningless. The meaning, of course, lies in the details beyond the headlines, which I fear he chose not to examine. And his contention that the United Nations issues climate reports to extract “more of our tax money” is laughable.

Barrette urges voting to unseat every officeholder on the ballot, a strategy that flies in the face of her desire for rational debate. Ignore their records, the issues, their campaign financing, she advises; just vote for anybody else.

Barrette reflects a common, pernicious theme that all politicians are irredeemably corrupt. They only want our money, she says. Actually, the incumbents want our votes, but so do the challengers. And if the latter are elected, she would target them for swift removal. Could there be a clearer prescription for dysfunctional government?

Conrad deFiebre, Minneapolis

The writer is a retired Star Tribune reporter.

GENEROSITY AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS

No, you can’t fix things so easily, nor by throwing shade at the diligent

In response to the Oct. 10 letter stating that the Hiawatha homeless encampment problem could be solved in a week with the wealth found in the Twin Cities: No, it can’t! Most of the campers are addicts/alcoholics. You can’t fix that in a week. These people have made poor choices, and, sadly, choices have very real consequences.

To another Oct. 10 letter writer upset by the number of TVs I own and how many times I eat out each week, I’d like to remind you that I’ve earned every one of those “luxuries” by getting up daily to work a job for 10 to 12 hours and then volunteering in my community and taking care of family in my free time. Many illegal immigrants do “milk the system,” and, remember, that system is paid for with dollars taken directly from my paycheck. I suggest you establish a “Running Start” foundation for them so you can give them all the support and money you feel they deserve so hardworking legal citizens who are offended by their illegal border crossing won’t have to.

Julia Beauchaine, Minneapolis

THE VIEW FROM INSIDE

In the Twin Cities: Safe transit, nonthreatening panhandlers

Gee willikers! I never realized when I retired and moved back up to my hometown of Minneapolis that I was in danger of being assaulted whenever I walk down a street (“In the Twin Cities: Aggressive panhandlers … ,” Readers Write, Oct. 10). I might feel very frightened but for the fact that my experience of the city is very different from that of the recent letter writer from Oklahoma. I manage to take public transport and walk to city locations (I don’t own a car) without feeling or being threatened. I’m not sure how the writer defines “aggressive,” but the most “aggressive” behavior I’ve met from a panhandler is a request for money and a backing off or a “God bless you!” when I shake my head.

Yes, homelessness is a problem here as it is in so many cities; perhaps if we kept homeless people out of sight, everyone, including the writer, could pretend they don’t exist and feel more comfortable. Let me assure people in Oklahoma and elsewhere that, the writer’s “local friends” notwithstanding, plenty of ordinary, law-abiding, nonthreatening people walk on the streets and ride the trains in Minneapolis every day. They even take advantage of our beautiful lakes and parks for walking and biking. I love living here!

Diane M. Ring, Minneapolis