As a post-World War II political activist, candidate, office holder and Republican supporter for the past 67 years, I have always believed in the two-party system of Republicans and Democrats. I believe in a political system consisting of "big tent" Republican and Democratic parties that, among other things, consist of liberals, conservatives and independent voters.

However, for the past 40 years, the zealots in each party have rejected the emphasis on united parties in favor of fragmented "leftist" and "rightist" principles. These zealots have abandoned moderate, centrist positions while casting aside common sense and reasoned public policies.

As former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. wrote in a recent column: "It's not about politics; it's about deeply held philosophical differences that play out every two years before the voting public." ("The 'heavy lift' of tax reform," March 24).

"The Obama Democrats believe in higher progressive taxes and no entitlement reform," Mr. Ehrlich continued. "The GOP firmly opposes additional tax increases and will require significant entitlement reform. ... And both parties fear weaning the American public off of its tax code dependence."

In a nutshell, Mr. Ehrlich has described the cause of the political stalemate in Washington, as well as the decline of our "big tent," two-party system.

Mr. Ehrlich's statement betrays the prejudices of our leaders in Washington and their arbitrary rejection of common sense, understanding of the purpose of government and compassion for the less fortunate.

During the 1950s, there were "conservative" Republican leaders who held that someday there would no longer be Republican and Democratic parties. Instead, there would be two entirely new parties, namely Conservative and Liberal. I remember wondering where I would go if that happened, since on some issues I am a conservative and on others a liberal.

It seems to me what we now have is a leadership of fragmented policies that favor either the rich or the poor, with the result that the middle class is shrinking and moderation has been smothered and stalemated in all three branches of government.

Samuel A. Culotta, Baltimore

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