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Mandela’s Lessons

Our current presidential candidates should take some lessons from Nelson Mandela [July 21]. Like most Americans, I am disappointed by the lack of leadership in this country and the lack of long-term solutions to the present state of the nation. I imagine it was the belief in his ideals and principles that kept Mandela alive under unspeakable hardship. Our current and prospective leaders should never forget that idealism and consistency–not the week’s polls–are what truly distinguish the great leaders in our history. Michael Osorio, ORLANDO, FLA.

Thanks for sharing with us some immensely inspiring and beautiful insights into the mind of one of the greatest ever leaders of the world. There is a lot for everybody to learn. I hope the dictators in Zimbabwe and Sudan read this piece and learn–and then act like true leaders. Anju Chandel, NEW DELHI

The cover picture of Mandela brought tears to my eyes. His confident smile affirmed that while we may go through difficult times, there is hope for the future as long as we embrace the ideals of this wonderful man. Maggie Lew, GRAND ISLAND, N.Y.

Hear Us Roar

Michael Kinsley makes the mistake of dismissing the anger of Hillary Clinton’s supporters rather than analyzing its causes [July 21]. For many, the Democratic race was the culmination of decades of strong, deeply personal feelings about feminism and civil rights, with candidates whose experiences resonated meaningfully with voters. How does one “get over” that? And when will Barack Obama thoughtfully address gender inequality in a speech, as he has with racism, faith and patriotism? A winning coalition in November could result if efforts are directed toward understanding rather than dismissing the concerns of these voters. Stephanie Hornbeck, ALEXANDRIA, VA.

Re Kinsley’s comments on Clinton supporters lacking “progressive passion” and going “off in a snit” to pursue yachting: Wow, do I feel chastised. Maybe I’ll sell my yacht and donate the proceeds to the Democratic National Committee. What on earth is this progressive passion? The Nobamas want exactly two things: a leader who is qualified and one whom they can trust. Obama does not qualify on either count. I’m a Democrat for McCain. May the best man win. Benita Canova, GLOVERSVILLE, N.Y.

I find it galling that Clinton’s supporters keep demanding to be heard. They lost because they had poor strategy and poor cohesion among the campaign leadership and failed to keep Bill Clinton on a short leash. If they think they will get a better deal from McCain in terms of moving a progressive agenda forward, they are sadly mistaken. Eugene M. Giudice, CHICAGO

The Freedom Brigade

Thank you, Nathan Thornburgh, for drawing attention to a group of Americans who will play an important role in the presidential election, “The (Not So) Lunatic Fringe” [July 21]. Not all of them are libertarians, however, and many have little in common with rural gun lovers. As you point out, the central goal of libertarianism is freedom. There is a group of Americans who support free markets and social freedom but do not necessarily consider themselves libertarian. We are educated urban dwellers–Bobos even. As a member of this group, I find neither Obama nor McCain appealing. When are politicians going to be ready for us? Laura Grube, MILWAUKEE

It’s Still Sunny in Florida

Michael Grunwald says he lives in Miami Beach, which is a world unto itself [July 21]. We have lived in South Central Florida for 30 years and find it to be paradise–beautiful unpolluted beaches and water, responsible zoning and happy, smiling residents. The economic problems we experience here today are those of the whole country, not just Florida. Year-round we find “fun and sun in Florida” an apt description. Marion Denninger, VERO BEACH, FLA.

Staying Safe from Wildfires

As a wildland firefighter for 40-plus years, I must strongly disagree with your statement in “Postcard: Santa Barbara” that “you can no more prepare for [wildfires] than for a sudden death” [July 21]. Homeowners can do much to reduce the risk of “sudden death” from a wildfire. Site selection, roofing and siding materials, landscaping plants, defensible space around the home–all these factors are well-known ways to mitigate much of the risk associated with living in the wildland-urban interface. For great material on helping keep wildfires in the wild, check out There are not enough firefighters to protect every home during a major wildfire event. The responsibility for making homes safe from fires must lie with individual homeowners. Dick Mangan, MISSOULA, MONT.

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