Views in brief

A lack of choices on the ballot

WHEN I voted in Michigan recently, there were not many choices on the Democratic side of the ballot. I am also very concerned in this country that there is not a lot of choice in elections. There are no choices for socialist, progressive or populist candidates on the ballot.

Is that democracy? I live to see the day when more people like Bernie Sanders are elected in this corporate-run government. Keep up the good work.
Mark Levering Smith, from the Internet

False hopes and the Democrats

I FIND myself increasingly disagreeing with some of the conclusions of Todd Chretien's "Nader, the Greens and 2008" (January 25).

He writes, "Only the reality of the Democrats in power will begin to make this [false hope] clear and lay the basis for rebuilding a new challenge to the two-party system and the corporations that stand behind it."

I hear many radical activists making claims like "once the Democrats get elected, then people will see how bad they are." We need to remember that eight years of Bill Clinton barely helped move the United States leftward. It is true that there was a little bit of a break with the Democratic Party late into the two terms, but this may have had much more to do with economic trends than any consciousness related to Bill Clinton.

We have to remember that the Democrats might not actually win. Remember John Kerry in 2004? They seem to enjoy picking the candidate who is most likely to lose. We would be foolish to base our hopes on elections which are basically fraudulent, if not sometimes explicitly fraudulent, which many claim is the case for 2000 and 2004.

Remember that we live in the United States. This country is politically backward because of its industrial and military strength. Some of us seem to be waiting on the edge of our seats for "the big break" in American consciousness to the left. In a country like this one, it is much more difficult for everyday battles and lessons to be consolidated into radical action and organization.

This is why we cannot count on the election of the Democrats to make any significant contribution in swaying the country in one direction or the other. Even if the Democrats continue to betray those who voted them into power, their duped constituents will not make the jump to the left--unless there is a left to receive them.

The Democrats have been betraying the working class since they were voted into Congress in 2006, and many other times in the past, but America is still full of thousands of starry-eyed lovers of Clinton and Obama.

Unless we build leftist organizations which act as a memory of the treacherous lessons the Democrats might teach us, I gaze into my crystal ball and see this upsurge of liberal enthusiasm crumbling back into conservative disappointment and cynicism. The Democrats will not radicalize the USA. That is up to us alone.
Matt Hoke, Ewing, N.J.

Life without parole is not cruel

I AM not a big advocate of the death penalty. Too many mistakes in the criminal justice system would indicate that the death penalty should not be used.

But how can you possible say: "So, should we advocate an alternative sentence like life without the possibility of parole without acknowledging that this sentence is unduly harsh and cruel?" ("Will abolitionist victory in N.J. spread?" January 25)

How is life without parole unduly harsh and cruel? Every murderer on death row, with only an extremely few exceptions, should die in prison.
Ralph D'Ambrosio, from the Internet