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Stephen Chris Disrud letter: Contrasting visions part of the process

The presidential primaries are gearing up already. It is doubtful that there will be any serious challenge to President Bush within the Republican Party, so the drama for candidacy will be solely Democratic.

The presidential primaries are gearing up already. It is doubtful that there will be any serious challenge to President Bush within the Republican Party, so the drama for candidacy will be solely Democratic.

For the past couple of years, the Democratic party has seemed incoherent, generally confused, in some kind of identity crisis. The domestic issues through which the Democrats have traditionally defined themselves have been lost not only in a sea of patriotism, but in waves of co-opting of the domestic agenda by President Bush -- a lesson well-learned from Bill Clinton (just as much Bush's political father as his biological father).

The Democrats lost the last election because they were not able to communicate a cogent vision for this nation and Americans felt that at least Bush's party had leadership and direction.

But they didn't lose by much -- the party was bruised, not wounded. Yet Democratic leadership seemed to go to their respective corners to inanely lick their bruises.

But the primaries are gearing up, and we are starting to see something we haven't seen in a long time: thoughtful, and even visionary, political debate. Presidential-hopeful Dick Gephart recently announced an ambitious (and expensive) plan for spurring "universal" healthcare. Whether one agrees with his plan or not, it provides a platform for debate, it provides a viable alternative to the Bush tax-cut plan, it provides much-needed leadership in the minority party.

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Up to this point, Democratic criticism of tax-cuts has seemed little more than harping for status quo, pork-barrel politics. But I believe that there are many who don't see tax cuts as quite the panacea that some in the right wing do, and will welcome a debate that intelligently and coherently contests how the government will use our money.

Both Republicans and Democrats should welcome a political atmosphere where contrasting visions for America's future are debated and, as a consequence, a new vision is clarified.

Stephen Chris Disrud

Fargo

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