Dear Editor: I recently attended a conference. Sitting in front of me was an elderly man who was railing about politicians. “Get rid of them all. They’re all corrupt," he bellowed.

I asked: “Excuse me, sir, but were you ever elected to office?” “Yes," he replied.

“Were you corrupt? Were you incompetent?” “Well,” said the gentleman, “I almost threw a chair at a guy I was so angry at him.”

I repeated my questions: “Were you corrupt? Were you incompetent?” After some hesitation he said, “No.”

“Well,” I said, “I was elected to office and then elected to chair two large commissions. I was honest and thought competent, and others who I served with were honest and competent, not that we were in agreement on all the issues.”

The old gentleman must not have heard me. “They all are corrupt — get rid of them all!”

“Look,” I said, “we are both about the same age and have seen a lot. I have a theory about why you are so angry. You see the new status of women and blacks and others. You find it hard to deal with technology that is leaving you behind. You cannot adjust or accept this change.”

He was stunned and then said: “All of 'that' will lead to socialism.”

“Why is that? “

“Well, it is!” he came back.

“Is socialism bad? Look at Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Israel. They seem to be doing well. And how about when the Socialists ran Milwaukee? We were considered the best municipal government in the country. The socialists were tight-fisted, hated to borrow money. They built our sewer system, the water department, parks, great schools and housing that served the poor instead of warehousing them.”

His response was that socialism leads to dictatorship. I asked how that was so. “Well,” he replied, “it just does.”

I repeat this conversation because I believe this gentleman’s unthinking attitude reflects on what we are seeing in this country politically. Power is shifting. Privileges are changing.

Bob Chernow

Milwaukee

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