As a progressive, I find Dom Flentje’s heartfelt progressive lament (“Sanders backers may send unforgettable message,” Opinion Exchange, April 14) singularly unpersuasive. What the primary showed is that progressive voters do not constitute a majority of Democratic voters, let alone a majority of general election voters. The winning margin of young people and ordinary workers that Sen. Bernie Sanders counted on did not materialize. That’s a political reality that we progressives have to take into account. I voted for my candidate, but my candidate did not win. I am disappointed but not surprised — but more importantly, it does not convince me to stop trying to influence the result of the general election.
Flentje argues that the party needs to earn our vote. But that’s not the way it works — it’s precisely backward. A party’s chief weapon is its electoral support. The “message” sent by not voting is that progressives will not give the party electoral power — so the party will adapt its message to more moderate voters who will vote for it. By dropping out, you do not “send a message” — you simply lose your influence.
Stay in the game. Shout long and hard, but stay in the game. Write your candidates; let them know what’s important and that you will support them as they work for it. Help bend the arc of the party toward justice. It will be slow-going (it always has been), but the future of our democracy depends on it.
Richard Shelton, Roseville
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It’s important to note that Sanders and his followers have done us a great service by moving the Democrats to the left. But Flentje’s commentary shows a lack of understanding between the United States’ system of government and a parliamentary system, say in Germany. While some progressives are loath to vote for anyone who doesn’t share their ideas, in our system we will only have two viable choices this fall: a vote for President Donald Trump or a vote for Joe Biden. As Flentje points out, a vote for Biden will mean salvaging the Paris climate accord and the appointment of a liberal Supreme Court justice (and that’s just the start of the list). If we had a parliamentary system, his and other progressives’ votes could help seat more progressives in a parliament, like the Green Party in Germany, who in turn could help form a government.
Until we change our system, I would urge my progressive friends to either “pinch [their] nose and vote for Biden” this fall or work to change our system of government. Another alternative would be to consider moving to Germany, but the beer is better here in Minneapolis.
Steve Hall, Minneapolis
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Flentje, in his recent opinion piece, outlined the “unforgettable message” that “disenfranchised” Bernie supporters can send to centrist politicians by choosing not to vote in November: “You need to make some serious policy concessions to energize us to vote.”
Flentje acknowledges that sending this message will certainly mean allowing Trump to win re-election. He is willing to put back in office a man who rose to power stoking the fires of fear and hate and who has spent his time in office locking immigrant children in cages, injecting health and energy into our country’s violent white nationalist groups, slashing funding to public schools, tearing as much health care as possible from the hands of those suffering most, and doing all that he can to ensure saving our planet from environmental catastrophe doesn’t get in the way of him and his friends making money. And don’t forget the enormous loss of life that he caused because of his inability to act in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Preventing all of that, apparently, is not sufficiently energizing.
A real progressive is interested in moving our country forward, not throwing a fit while everyone else suffers. If they don’t vote in November, Flentje and his “progressive” friends will certainly be sending a clear message: They are willing to sacrifice everyone else’s safety and welfare if they don’t get exactly what they want.
Noah Sanders, Minneapolis
Is Trump in charge, or isn’t he?
Over the past few weeks the question under discussion has been when our economy should have been shut down, with most Democrats and the media blaming President Donald Trump for not having done so earlier. Now the question appears to be when our economy should be opened and who has the authority to make that decision, with most Democrats and the media taking the position that the president does not have that authority. In the words of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, of Pennsylvania, “Seeing as how we had the responsibility to close the state down, I think we probably have the primary responsibility for opening it up” (“Trump, states in standoff,” front page, April 14).
Does anyone see the obvious inconsistency in placing the blame on Trump for waiting too long to close the economy, and now saying it’s up to the governors, not the president, to decide when to open up the states? But the real test of fairness and consistency will come after the governors make their decisions on opening their respective economies, as they should, and the country is subjected to a second round of the COVID-19 virus: Who will the Democrats and the media then blame for the decision to open?
Ronald Haskvitz, St. Louis Park
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Trump very strongly stated that governors of each state had the right to handle the coronavirus epidemic in their own way. Now that he is thinking of reopening the country for business, Trump suddenly thinks he is a dictator. If any governor would think of disobeying his order, that person will suffer the consequences. Either governors know what is better for their states or not. Trump can’t have it both ways.
John Schwanke, Cumberland, Wis.
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On Monday, talking specifically about opening up the country, Trump stated, “The authority of the president of the United States having to do with the subject we are talking about is total.”
I ask you: How can the president open something he never closed? I believe 43 state governors instituted orders closing all activities causing people to be in too-close contact with others and asking residents to stay-at-home. The most Trump did, too late, was to suggest such things.
Just one more of the hundreds of ridiculous statements and false claims over the years. “Total exoneration” being repeated in many forms.
Darrell Egertson, Bloomington
That was rhetorical fraud, too
Regarding “Mail-in ballots really do make voter fraud easy” (Opinion Exchange, April 13): This essay is not what it claims to be. Of course, commentary writer Margaret Menge’s admitting — no, bragging — about committing voter fraud demands suspension of the reader’s disbelief in the first place. Nevertheless, the central thesis and headline of the piece, that mail-in ballots make fraud easy, is not only not demonstrated, it is not even addressed. If we are to believe her story, she fraudulently registered to vote. Her mail-in ballot was the reasonable result of her thus having become a registered voter. Once registered, she was just as likely to have received a ballot in person at her local polling place.
Menge’s crime had everything to do with fraud but nothing to do with mail-in ballots. The only fraud perpetrated here is the essay itself.
Peter Hill, Minnetonka
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