The Republican Search for Alternatives to Trump

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  • Assad Should Be Reviled, Not Recognized
  • The Overuse of Guardianship

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “How to Make Trump Go Away,” by Frank Luntz (Opinion guest essay, April 10):

Republicans are tying themselves in knots trying to come up with candidates who can appeal to Trump voters but who are not Donald Trump. The latest effort is this essay by the Republican strategist Frank Luntz.

I laughed and groaned when I read about the search for “a candidate who champions Mr. Trump’s agenda but with decency, civility and a commitment to personal responsibility and accountability.” Really? How could such a thing be possible?

Mr. Trump’s agenda — if one can say he has an agenda other than himself — is one of building a power base by stoking grievance, resentment and division. It is inherently based on indecency and incivility.

The last thing this country needs is a smoother, more effective version of Donald Trump. We need an agenda that brings us together to make America a better place for everyone, not just for some at the expense of others. We don’t need an agenda that divides, debases and weakens us, whoever the candidate.

John Mason
Santa Rosa, Calif.

To the Editor:

Frank Luntz’s eight suggestions to the Republican leadership on how to dump Donald Trump are well considered and rational. But one other rational thought that he omitted is the threat that Mr. Trump would run as an independent if he isn’t nominated for the 2024 presidential race. Even a small percentage of his hard-core base could crush the chances for a normal Republican candidate to win the general election.

Mr. Trump is irrational enough to spend the funds he has raised already plus some of his own in a vindictive, spoiler candidacy. It’s not a mystery why Republican leaders don’t know how to escape their dilemma.

Davis van Bakergem
St. Louis

To the Editor:

As one of the steadily increasing body of independents, I read Frank Luntz’s column avidly to see where there might be a case to be made on behalf of the Republicans. Unfortunately, there is an underlying premise that Donald Trump did a lot of good things for the country during his term.

I fail to see them.

True, the economy was in good shape before the coronavirus, but I ascribe that in large part to the hard work of the Obama years. The only program of note that Mr. Trump initiated was the tax cuts that sharply increased an already swollen deficit and that benefited our citizens who least needed the help. Far from helping the disenfranchised, he milked them for his personal benefit and widened the divide.

Internationally, he alienated our longstanding allies in Europe. We are left with his “impact on the bureaucracy and judiciary.” Mr. Luntz must mean rendering governance ineffectual through starvation and converting the judiciary into a political body.

Not my idea of a record to run on.

Tony Pell

To the Editor:

Thank you for this great piece. Everything Frank Luntz said resonated with me, a liberal residing among some very strong conservatives. He went the extra mile to really understand Trump voters and describe in great detail how a Republican candidate could succeed with them in a future election.

It was very thought-provoking, and helped me gain an even deeper insight into my neighbors and their concerns. I will remember what he wrote.

Mary Hollen
Greenbank, Wash.

To the Editor:

Frank Luntz offers messaging advice for Republican presidential candidates to attract MAGA voters away from Donald Trump: Listen and sympathize with Trump supporters, he says, emphasize decency, civility and personal responsibility. Acknowledge Mr. Trump’s successes and offer the mildest criticisms of his presidential record and personal behavior. “Make it more about the grandchildren” because these mature right-wing voters care about the kids’ future.

No doubt there are disillusioned Trump voters who are ready for a different message, but how many? Racism, misogyny and apocalyptic nihilism are the hallmarks of Trumpism. Mr. Luntz’s advice is not only risible — adopt a liberal demeanor without the Enlightenment values — but also paradoxical. It presumes an electorate yearning for a kinder, gentler fascism. ​

Geraldine Murphy
New York

Assad Should Be Reviled, Not Recognized

Credit…/EPA, via Shutterstock

To the Editor:

Re “After Shunning Assad for Years, the Arab World Changes Its Tune” (news article, April 14):

It is troubling to see that several Arab nations have chosen to embrace President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, whose tenure has been marked by unspeakable atrocities and egregious human rights violations. His reign of tyranny and terror should result in ongoing condemnation, not the newfound credibility that is being bestowed upon him by Syria’s Arab neighbors.

Mass killings and widespread violence that have forced millions of people to flee their homes cannot and should not be overlooked when assessing the strategic importance of re-establishing formal relations with Syria and its rogue leader.

Mr. al-Assad should be reviled, not recognized.

N. Aaron Troodler
Bala Cynwyd, Pa.

The Overuse of Guardianship

Credit…Rozalina Burkova

To the Editor:

Thank you for “A Better Alternative to Guardianship,” by Emily Largent, Andrew Peterson and Jason Karlawish (Opinion guest essay, April 5).

As they note, the overuse of guardianship robs people of agency in their own lives. Those with guardians are left out of important conversations about their future, they don’t develop the skills necessary to make life choices and they are prohibited from entering into legal agreements, managing their money or getting married without the guardian’s consent.

Because the individual has been deemed legally incompetent, the guardian signs any legally binding contracts, co-signs any disbursements and, depending on the state, may have to sign the marriage license.

For people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, families are all too often counseled when their family member leaves school to seek guardianship.

Nationwide data from the National Core Indicators indicates that among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities receiving services, a staggering 45 percent are under some form of guardianship. Supported decision-making, described in the essay, provides a much-needed alternative to this denial of rights and agency.

Valerie J. Bradley
Cambridge, Mass.
The writer is president emerita of the Human Services Research Institute.

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