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Don’t Buy It

To the Editor:

Tom Golisano just doesn’t get it on campaign finance reform [Trail Mix, Sept. 12].

He seems to believe that creating an aristocracy where the rich govern directly rather than buying politicians is somehow a major improvement. Metroland quotes the Golisano campaign as saying that “the only guarantee to make sure a candidate is not influenced by special interest money is to self-finance.”

The Green Party and Stanley Aronowitz, our gubernatorial candidate, want to end the practice of the wealthy and special interests buying government. That includes Tom Golisano. The Greens don’t want a government of billionaires and the CEOs of huge corporations. We support a Clean Money Clean Elections approach to elections that eliminates all special interest money, including that of wealthy individuals financing their own campaigns. Candidates who raise a certain number of $5 contributions from voters in their district would qualify for public funding. Besides being more democratic, taxpayers will save a lot of money by ending the practice of selling government to the highest bidder. Wall Street knows only too well that a campaign contribution remains the best investment to make, with the donors receiving far more back in the form of tax breaks and government contracts.

I am sure that in his own mind Tom Golisano believes his campaign is not being funded by special interests. Most politicians don’t believe they have been bought by special interests. But even for a billionaire like Tom Golisano, money doesn’t grow on a tree. To make his billion dollars, what companies did Golisano sell services to? Will these companies possibly cancel or expand their contracts with Golisano’s companies based on his policies as governor? Will Golisano release a list of all his corporate clients since he began running for governor nearly a decade ago?

Short of public campaign finance reform, the Greens support making elections more competitive by reducing the amount of money spent on them. Spending $3,000 a vote in a primary and $70 million to run for governor as Mr. Golisano is doing is a disaster for democracy. We need to ensure that all candidates, not just the rich and powerful, have equal access to the television and radio airwaves that are legally owned by the public. We support the enactment of a ballot pamphlet law such as the one used in NYC where voters receive written information before the election where all the candidates have an equal opportunity to explain their program.

The Green Party supports joining the rest of the world’s democracies by adopting a system of proportional representation where votes in legislative bodies are allocated based on the percentage of votes each party receives. We support the use of preferential voting to make sure that the candidates who win have the broadest base of support. For instance, most presidents in recent elections failed to win a majority of the voters. Under preferential voting, candidates would be ranked by each voter in their order of preference. If no candidate received a majority of the votes in the first round, the lowest-ranked candidates would be eliminated, and the votes of their supporters would be reallocated to their second preference until one candidate has a majority. We support same-day voter registration. We would eliminate the electoral college as inherently undemocratic. We support allowing individuals who have served time in the criminal justice system to have their right to vote restored. We support term limits and the elimination of career politicians. We support initiative and referendum, giving the public the right to directly vote on legislation.

America has a long way to go before we establish a true democracy. Electing Tom Golisano would be a big step backwards in the effort.

Mark Dunlea
Vice-Chair, Green Party of NYS
Poestenkill

What Would Jesus Do?

To the Editor:

In response to Jo Page’s column titled “In the Name of Love” [Reckonings, Sept. 12]:

Before dragging Jesus into the “should we go to war” debate, we should be prepared to present Him fairly and more completely on the subject. Ms. Page’s article offers select aspects of the gospels that seem hand-picked to support certain political ideologies.

I could just as easily select scripture to support Jesus as say, a warrior, not the meek and mild pacifist so often used to bolster anti-war arguments. One could, for example, nullify Ms. Page’s argument that “Like it or not, Jesus called for peace,” with the following selected scripture:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

Both conclusions, I believe, miss the point. Although many would prefer to portray Jesus on a campaign for peace and justice, the gospels emphasize over and over that Jesus came foremost to save sinners, and He asks us to make a choice. To the greater extent that the gospels stress the concept of “peace,” it is the peace that passes all understanding, received in our inner being, as a result of choosing Him as Lord and savior. Is Jesus peaceful? He is the Prince of Peace. But I’m not convinced he is a “peace-nick,” exalting the virtues of peace above all else.

Ms. Page points to the atrocities committed during World War II as examples of the violence committed under the banner of Christianity. Have we forgotten that a warrior response was required to stop the atrocities from continuing?

Suppose in the parable of the Good Samaritan, the Samaritan happened along the road while the robbers were still attacking the victim. Would it have been right for the Samaritan to have helped fight off the offenders, putting his own life at risk for his oppressed neighbor? Or, would it be better to watch him be mercilessly beaten to a pulp until the bad guys leave, and then go and show him love? Yes, indeed, Jesus preached love and gave us these words to epitomize what it looks like in action: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Saddam Hussein poisons and oppresses his own citizens. Do we love these victims enough to oust their oppressor? His sadistic sons and secret police brutally torture and rape Iraqi women. Who will love these victims? Had it not been for military action by the United States and our allies, who would have freed Afghan women from the tyranny and oppression of the Taliban? As I write, terrorists are planning to kill thousands of innocent people. Do we love these future victims enough to deter the hands of their aggressors, through force if necessary?

Ms Page asserts: “Can we ask God to Bless America and then kill civilians?” (As if this were our aim.) I respond with a similar question. Can we ask God to bless America and then sit passively on the sidelines while innocent people are tortured and massacred? Should we not seek to protect and liberate the victimized? A peace sign alone won’t work I’m afraid.

No sane person, and certainly no true Christian, wants to go to war. Christians are called to live in peace with all men insofar as it is up to us. Sometimes we are given no choice.

John Richter
Albany

Give Pro-Peace Israelis a Chance

To the Editor:

Travis Durfee’s article “All They Were Saying . . .” [Newsfront, Sept. 12] served as another example of Metroland’s manifest anti-Israel bias. Mr. Durfee repeatedly refers to the counter-demonstrators as “pro-peace,” yet never uses the same epithet for the pro-Israel demonstrators. Is Mr. Durfee suggesting that the pro-Israelis are anti-peace? It would certainly seem so. Moroever, Mr. Durfee quotes the views of the counter-demonstrators at greater length than the views of the pro-Israelis, yet the former group made up just a small fraction of the crowd.

If Metroland were to become a truly useful alternative paper in its coverage of the Middle East, it could start by covering the diversity of pro-peace plans within the pro-Israel community rather than devoting so much space to the hoary and simple-minded arguments of some anti-Israel extremists.

Jonathan Schiff
Albany


Correction

In the Sept. 12 Night & Day section, we published the wrong photograph with a preview box for the Albany Center Galleries Silver show. That photograph (right) is by Thomas B. Maslanka, rescue specialist with the NY Urban/Technical Search & Rescue Team. The photo is part of Ground Zero, Maslanka’s exhibition of photographs on display at Shutter Speed Photo (281 New Scotland Ave., Albany, 459-4526) until Nov. 11.

The photograph that should have appeared (left) is Emerald City and is part of the Albany Center Galleries Silver show, on display until Oct. 18. The new location of the galleries is in the main branch of the Albany Public Library (161 Washington Ave., Albany, 462-4775).


Editor’s Note:

Erin Sullivan, formerly Metroland’s managing editor, now is news editor at City Paper, Baltimore’s alternative newsweekly.

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (computer printouts OK), addressed to the editor. Or you may e-mail them to: metroland@metroland.net. Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

Send to:
Letters, Metroland, 4 Central Ave.,
4th Floor, Albany, NY 12210
or e-mail us at metroland@metroland.net.


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