Voter stupidity isn’t the only problem

To the editor:

I got a good chuckle out of reading Jonah Goldberg’s recent commentary in which he wondered if Americans were too stupid to vote. Mr. Goldberg (and all others who complain about voters not being knowledgeable about the issues) completely miss the point about elections.

In virtually every election at the state and national level, voters have only two choices — the Democratic candidate and the Republican candidate (if we are lucky). No matter how smart or knowledgeable you are, you still only have two choices. I might agree with Mr. Goldberg if there were eight or 10 candidates running from eight or 10 relatively equal political parties. Then the voters would truly have a choice, and knowledge of the issues would be important.

The real question should be, “Are the Democratic and Republican parties too stupid to nominate viable candidates for all state and national offices”? Until these two parties can start nominating candidates for offices based on the issues instead of based on how much money they can raise, I don’t think it is fair to blame the American voter for electing unqualified candidates because of ignorance of the issues.

A sub-issue of Mr. Goldberg’s column that I would also like to address is voter turnout. Virtually all media outlets conduct polls prior to the election and defend the accuracy of these polls to within 4 or 5 percentage points. After the elections, these same media outlets complain that the results of the election could have been different if more people had voted. Maybe, just maybe, we could increase voter turnout if we don’t tell them who is going to win before they even vote.

Richard Pratt


Racial perspective

To the editor:

Some letter writers have posed the query as to why the Rev. Al Sharpton and the NAACP defend Michael Vick pre-trial, but did not do the same for the Duke lacrosse team. Certainly, there is a double standard, and it would be good were it not so.

Black ministers, not earning their living directly from the larger community, are free to speak out against the real or perceived injustices perpetrated against members of the black community — in which the belief is held that you can buy justice. Blacks, not having the money to purchase it — O.J. Simpson and Kobe Bryant being notable exceptions — can only let their leaders plead for them in hope for sympathy.

That said, these are not excuses, but to show that comparing Vick to the Duke students is like comparing apples and oranges.

One is from a background where violence is common, where policemen are considered the enemy — e.g. Rodney King, Abner Louima and Amadou Dialo — so a few dogs killing each other pales in insignificance compared to the indiscriminate taking of human lives.

The others are from a background of wealth, prestigious university educations and the like. Sen. Strom Thurmond had such a background, when at age 25 he impregnated a teenage black. It is automatic and normal that most blacks think the Duke students were guilty of abusing that woman in some way.

Again, that doesn’t make it right, only to demonstrate the nuances of race in our society.

Only a few blacks share my belief that Simpson is guilty. Those who do not applauded when he was found innocent.

Treading through the morass of race relations in this country is fraught with misunderstanding. Similar to a culture gap, we have a way to go to close it. Much progress has been, and is still being made.

William V. Lofton


Healthy merger

To the editor:

I’ve been following the recent coverage of the merger between UnitedHealth and Sierra Health Services and have noticed an element of this story that hasn’t fully been told — the impact on the nonprofit community.

As officer of the Nevada chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, I’ve personally experienced UnitedHealth’s commitment to our community. Five of our NVPVA members competed in the 27th National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Milwaukee this summer, thanks to the support of UnitedHealth, who helped jump-start our fundraising by making the first contribution.

A month later, when UnitedHealth learned we were still short of our funding goal, which put some of our team members in jeopardy of missing the largest annual wheelchair competition in the world, the company donated the rest of the funds. This allowed our team to compete and bring home 15 medals.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with the people at UnitedHealth and have had the opportunity to learn more about the company’s commitment to improving the health of its members. After hearing more about the proposed merger and how it will benefit Nevadans by combining Sierra and UnitedHealth products, services and resources, it’s clear that these companies are committed to improving access to affordable, quality health care in Nevada.

I believe the merger will benefit other local charitable organizations like mine, as the combined company and its employees will continue to be good corporate citizens through their charitable giving programs, volunteer efforts and community-relations activities.

Mike Stern



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