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All-or-nothing politics

Must admiration of Cuban schools be an embrace of firing squads?

There are several points I could debate with letter writer Rev. Michael Buttner ("Echoes of Castro in American liberals," Nov. 28), but I will focus on the primary one: the tendency of many conservatives (please note I did not say "all" conservatives) to paint issues with an all-or-nothing brush is what brought much constructive legislation to a screeching halt in the recent Congress. If we liberals admired Fidel Castro's education and health care policies, it does not mean that we want to get rid of free speech and set up firing squads. Government-sponsored education and health care systems function successfully in Canada and northern Europe without mass imprisonment of the populace. The Affordable Care Act has helped millions of people, but it is not by any means flawless. It needs to be revisited by informed conservative Republicans and their Democratic counterparts, who are willing to sit down together, put aside false and inflammatory rallying cries about "death panels" that "pull the plug on Grandma," study the actual document and negotiate ways to improve it.

In the same way, America's greatness is not all or nothing. My parents were immigrants who were eternally grateful for the freedoms they enjoyed here. That's how I was brought up, and I share that gratitude. And when I speak out against situations or legislation or government leaders or foreign policy that disturb me, I am still grateful for this wonderful country that allows me to do this. We have an amazing, successful democracy, but it's not perfect. We need to do the hard work of identifying and prioritizing the challenges and engaging with each other in lively but respectful debate to make it the best America we can.

Susan Sachs Fleishman, Baltimore

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