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Recent debates on these pages about the nature of socialism are irrelevant for the purpose of the upcoming presidential election (“Do you vote? Pay taxes? We’re already a socialist country!” Feb. 18; “Lacking a definition? Let me help,” Feb. 19; and “Governance by any other name,” Feb. 20).

Most Americans will not vote for a candidate with the descriptive “socialist” by his name to be the next president.

If Sen. Bernie Sanders is the nominee, it will tag every down-ballot Democrat with the socialist label. This, after Democrats flipped the House in 2018 with moderate candidates, including two of our own. Any hopes the Democrats have on keeping the House and flipping the Senate will be dashed.

Worse, Sen. Mitch McConnell will continue with transforming the federal judiciary after refusing to confirm President Barack Obama’s appointees.

Sanders, of course, is not a Democrat, has never been a Democrat and has actively campaigned against Democratic candidates. It is, therefore, beyond me why some, including Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, support him.

If Sanders is the nominee, he and his supporters will get their “revolution,” including the eviscerating of the Democratic Party as we know it. And perhaps this is their goal.

Hanna Hill, Plymouth

• • •

As we enter the voting booth on March 3 to vote for who we support for the next Democratic presidential candidate, I encourage all of you who think that a moderate Democrat is the way to go to reconsider. Let me remind you that the state of our country today is as much the fault of moderate Democrats as it is with the current leadership. Obscene military spending (always passed without question), unending war, climate and environmental disaster (with the military being one of its biggest contributors), lack of health care for many, an epidemic of homelessness, crumbling infrastructure, huge student debt, a government dictated to by the ultrawealthy, etc., were all with us prior to President Donald Trump.

Throughout my entire adult life (71 years old) we have never been led by a true progressive. We need real change in this country, not moderate change. Please listen to those of us on the left and give us a chance. I believe the best person to help us make the changes we need to make is Sanders. Bernie has spent his entire career focused on the working class and to make this world a better place. He has earned the opportunity to lead us. His visions are bold, but so are our problems. Check his record. The younger candidates will have another time and should step aside.

Barry Riesch, St. Paul

STREET SAFETY

A pedestrian crossing means stop

In response to yesterday’s article about safety on Lyndale Avenue (“Advocates see road to a safer Lyndale,” Feb. 25), that’s not the only unsafe thoroughfare in Minneapolis. I am a year-round walker and live in northeast Minneapolis with many marked crosswalks. Recently, while trying to cross in a well-marked crosswalk that also is marked with a sign, I was almost run over. The guilty driver swerved into the turn lane and went around me even though I was waving my arms to indicate he had to stop. Then the vehicle behind him laid on his horn to alert me to his irritation with me!

Bottom line? All the crosswalks in the world won’t solve the problem if drivers ignore them.

Elizabeth Wizik, Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS SCHOOLS

Bad ideas galore in redistricting plan

Current proposals for fixing Minneapolis Public Schools would be comical if they weren’t so tragic (“Mpls. high-schoolers can stay in same school after redistricting,” Feb. 25). Superintendent Ed Graff cites declining enrollment (caused by parental dissatisfaction) as the primary problem, then proposes closing the most popular schools as a solution. Graff insists that we need real solutions this time and can no longer just shuffle the pieces around, then proposes closing some schools and opening others.

The problem, which everyone should be concerned about, is the failure of Minneapolis Public Schools to educate all children, especially certain children of color. Here are a couple of ideas that go beyond shuffling the pieces around:

1. Data suggests that the achievement gap grows faster during summer vacation (my grandkids went to “Space Camp” last summer, didn’t see many kids of color when I picked them up) than it does during the school year. So why does Minneapolis base its school calendar on the 19th-century expectation that students need the summer off to work in the fields?

2. Data suggests that parental involvement is a major factor in student achievement, so why don’t Minneapolis Public Schools prioritize parental involvement? (In the current system, parent-teacher conferences are scheduled at the teacher’s convenience, and if the parents miss the appointment — no conference for that student.)

There is no guarantee that either of these ideas would, on their own, eliminate the “achievement gap.” But these and other out-of-the-box ideas might work. Pretty clear that closing the popular schools, thus spurring further declines in enrollment, has no chance of working.

John K. Trepp, Minneapolis

MINNESOTA POLL

Are we seeing the same economy?

The economic section of the Star Tribune/MPR News poll (Feb. 25) is the most poignant picture of the political divide in Minnesota today.

I can understand people not liking President Donald Trump for his personal behavior. I can understand people not liking Trump for his personal style, particularly following eight years of President Barack Obama; if you loved one you were bound to hate the other. But those two factors in no way can rationalize the movement from the typical 60-40 splitting on poll questions along party lines, to where only 10% of DFL/Democrats approved of today’s economy, whereas 98% of Republicans approved. No matter which way you measure it, or who or what party is in power, the economy is doing well, and if only 10% of Democrats can admit it, we have a serious problem.

Cognitive dissonance aside, I think there is something bigger afoot and I think it is a civil war brewing in Minnesota, between urban liberals and suburban/outstate conservatives.

Dave Conklin, Victoria, Minn.

THE EARTH

On owls and Mother Nature

On my nightly walk on the West Side of St. Paul a few nights ago, I was surprised by the sound of an owl: hoo — hoohoohoo — hoohoo.

It was the call of a great horned owl, I believe.

I have made a habit of these walks for all of the 30 years I have lived in St. Paul, and this is the first time I have ever heard an owl during them. Though I couldn’t see the bird, I could tell it was roosting in a giant oak about 20 yards away and the call continued at regular intervals for as long as I stood there, transfixed.

Or could I instead have been hearing the deep, primordial sounds of Mother Earth? And could the insistent, repetitive message have been, “Wake up, humans, and take care of your only home. Preserve it for future generations of all species ...”?

John Hick, St. Paul

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