Four paragraphs into Keith Downey’s June 16 counterpoint “No reason to ‘tank’ the real Republican future,” I began throwing up into my mouth. I can’t remember the last time I read such blatant propaganda in the Star Tribune. To imply that the sacrifice and bravery of the First Minnesota Regiment is somehow representative of the modern Republican Party is, at best, shameful. Downey’s implication that there is any sort of similarity between the political parties of 1854 and now is ridiculous.

Downey also recites a litany of problems that, according to him, were caused by the Obama administration. But that doesn’t paint a complete picture. During the last seven years, Republicans have done their best to ensure that the cogs of democracy have been jammed for both of President Obama’s terms. Case in point: We have an empty seat in the Supreme Court that should have been filled by now were it not for Republican obstructionism. As Downey correctly wrote, “the rule of law is ignored by our leaders, and even our constitutional republic seems at risk.”

Regarding Hillary Clinton’s “unprecedented dose of corruption,” where’s the proof? If she is so corrupt, why isn’t she behind bars? Is she a criminal genius who can’t be stopped?

The crowning jewel of Downey’s composition is the claim that Republicans are the “party of Reagan’s principles of liberty and justice for all.” I seem to remember that only a short time ago the Minnesota Republican Party proposed two constitutional amendments that would have limited liberty and justice for many: a ban on gay marriage and a voter ID requirement.

I used to vote Republican, but in the years following George H.W. Bush’s presidency, the party began to lose its way. Tom Horner’s opinion (“Sink to swim,” May 5), which Downey attempted to rebut, was insightful. Downey’s counterpoint only confirmed my belief that the party’s leadership has wandered hopelessly into the wilderness.

Robert Doppelhammer, Delano, Minn.

• • •

Republicans, including Downey, love to describe themselves as belonging to the party of Lincoln. Here’s a news flash: Honest Abe wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near the White House in today’s extremist, right-wing Republican party.

Let’s look at the historical record involving taxes, rail and higher education during Lincoln’s time and today.

• In 1861, President Lincoln signed into law the country’s very first federal income tax. Today’s Republicans sign Grover Norquist’s pledge to never raise taxes.

• In 1862, Lincoln signed into law federal funding for Western expansion of the railroads (the Pacific Railway Act). Meanwhile, just two weeks ago, Minnesota Republicans scrapped a bonding bill due to their near-unanimous opposition to light-rail expansion in the west metro.

• 1862 was the year the Land-Grant College Act became law under Lincoln, providing funds for establishing U.S. colleges. Modern Republicans, on the other hand, have voted to slash funding for higher education and blocked President Obama’s plan to make community colleges free.

One hundred fifty years ago, Abraham Lincoln was a progressive president, and his GOP was the liberal party of the day, with its ideas including the elimination of slavery. Here in 2016, the Republican Party is rolling toward Election Day with regressive notions and one Donald Trump at the wheel.

Abe Lincoln? He’s rolling in his grave.

Stephen Monson, Golden Valley

MASS KILLINGS

Senate Democrats focus on the guns and miss the point

The Democrats in the Senate filibustered to garner a vote on gun control in light of the attack on Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Bravo! The mode of the attack, whether it’s Orlando, Sandy Hook, Aurora or Boston, gets all the attention. Why?

Yes, all of the recent attacks on civilians took place with assault-style weapons, yet do we forget that pressure cookers, planes and trucks full of fertilizer have been used as well? We are so focused on the mode of the attack that we lose sight as to the intent of the attack. People with evil in their hearts and minds will accomplish what they set to do regardless of the method. If government wants to get serious about curbing the attacks, then focus the debate on the intent behind the attacks, not the mode.

Chris Lund, Hamburg

LIGHT RAIL

On our larger ‘island,’ roads are the real success story

In her June 15 letter “A different suburban perspective on transit: We are not islands,” Ann Swenson identifies herself as a member of the Edina City Council. Why? She has posited a notion that light rail would be good for Edina. Notwithstanding everybody’s belief that healthy core cities are good for everyone, she proceeds to become derailed.

She tells us that her family has taken light rail to see Twins games, etc. She conveniently ignores the costs of light rail to taxpayers and the motoring public at large. She fails to mention that light rail impedes the flow of all other traffic, making it a net loser in the movement of all foot and other motorized traffic. Nor does she mention that if these same funds poured into light rail rights of way were used for roads, a minimum of four times as many people could make it to their final destinations in less time. Worse, she fails to advise her fellow Edina citizens that the few who ride the rails must be heavily subsidized by the rest of her constituents.

Ms. Swenson, you would serve the public best by listing all of the factors related to light rail and retracting this flight of fancy.

Richard Iffert, Eagan

• • •

A June 16 article regarding the budget impasse at the Legislature points out that a sticking point for House Republicans is funding for the Southwest light-rail line, funding they consider an “expensive boondoggle.”

It could be said that boondoggle, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. For some, spending public money on sports stadiums is a boondoggle. In transportation, building big highways in country areas where they get relatively few users could be considered a boondoggle, as could building an expensive highway bridge over a wild and scenic river, again to accommodate relatively few users.

If everything can be a boondoggle, maybe we need to find a standard to separate the good boondoggles from the not-so-good. Environmental degradation and economic competitiveness in our car-oriented region have often been cited and are important concerns. How about adding the time-honored greater good? In this case, usefulness to many users. By this standard, light rail in our metro area of more than 3 million has already proven itself very successful. The Southwest line, connecting many business, manufacturing and technology destinations to people who need to reach them, would do likewise.

Republican legislators in a lucid moment should agree that for the greater good, if for no other, they need to get on board Southwest light rail and other 21st-century transportation projects.

Deb Alper, St. Paul

COMMUNITY ACTION FRAUD

A sad case, but not reflective of the broader effort

I read with sadness about the alleged wrongdoing by a Community Action program director in Hennepin County (“Ex-nonprofit CEO to plead guilty,” June 16). I realize how lucky I was as an Anoka County social worker (now retired) to be associated with our Community Action program. It is managed with integrity, compassion and accountability by, perhaps, one of the most principled individuals I have had the privilege of knowing, Patrick McFarlane. He and his staff have their ears to the pulse of the community and work tirelessly to provide accessible, cost-effective and caring services to the citizens of our county. They do a great job of “picking up the slack” with programs and services that often are unfunded or underfunded by the county. My hope is that people will skip the broad brush when making generalizations regarding our Community Action programs.

Barb Schachtschneider, Coon Rapids