To the Editor:
Only the most devoted party member, Democrat or Republican, is likely to challenge Paul Johnson’s observations [“A World Without Leaders,” July] on the mediocre quality of our political leadership. And that, precisely, is the direction one should look for the source of this problem, not Congress, as Mr. Johnson suggests in his concluding paragraph. . . . The fault, I believe, can be traced to . . . a party system that is becoming ever more insular.
What did this system offer the American people in 1992? President Bush and Candidate Not-Bush who, in major respects, resembles George Bush more and more as time goes by. And, as we have seen, President Bush . . . most resembled President Carter. . . .
Was it not an article of democratic instruction that, in the Soviet Union, the Communist party represented a very small minority of the population and acted more to preserve party privilege than to speak on behalf of, and work toward, the general welfare? Regard the parties that gave us Bush and Clinton. . . . After nearly six years of Bush and Not-Bush, is the struggling class better off than it was during the last days of the Reagan presidency?
One does not have to be an economist to glean from the confused stories on the front pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post that the rich liberals are getting richer and the struggling class is struggling all the more. Yes, the rich liberals; anyone who would charge the Clintons with being socialists is foolish. If only they were interested in the well-being of the struggling class. . . .
What is to be done? If the choice we are given by the major parties in 1996 is Clinton and Not-Clinton, and if we are dissatisfied with this choice, we should simply not vote. What if they gave an election and no one except party hacks and lobbyists participated? . . .
When it comes down to problems in democratic government, the fault, dear Mr. Johnson, is not with Congress; it is with ourselves.
David R. Zukerman
Bronx, New York
To the Editor:
I have been a subscriber to COMMENTARY almost since the memory of man runneth not to the contrary. If a decision about subscribing to COMMENTARY were to rest upon Paul Johnson’s “A World Without Leaders,” I would without hesitation not subscribe. The article was the acme of poor judgment and reactionism. It is incredible to me how Mr. Johnson could include Ronald Reagan among our great Presidents—and, to compound his lack of discernment, to include Calvin Coolidge among the near-great. I did not believe what I was reading.
J. Mitchell Rosenberg
New York City