Re "In GOP They Trust," Dec. 24: Your portrayal of Murrieta is misleading. Murrieta has a Republican majority typical of American suburbia. However, the city is a generous, harmonious community whose residents are of all political and religious persuasions. It has its share of political and religious extremists, but they are not typical of the community.
We do have a vibrant Democratic organization in the Temecula-Murrieta area. The Democratic Club has close to 200 members. We had an active campaign headquarters during the last election. Every precinct in Murrieta and Temecula was organized with a precinct coordinator. The quote from professor Shaun Bowler that "the Democrats don't even bother to organize" is completely erroneous.
Let me also assure Bowler that Democrats who do not work in the area are commuters. They talk to other commuters, not to people in the Bay Area.
David A. Lander
Past President, Democratic
Club of Southwest Riverside
It's no surprise that Murrietans vote like the residents of natural-resource-based states like Montana and Wyoming. In both cases, government welfare benefits are disguised and concealed from the residents, who think everything would be fine if the "guv'mint" would just leave people alone.
Whereas in Montana and Wyoming government welfare comes as minimal grazing fees, cheap mining licenses and logging in the national forests, in Murrieta the welfare comes as cheap oil for the residents' 120-mile commutes and infrastructure like roads and water that supports environmentally insane suburban sprawl. But hey, getting yours from the public trough is what freedom's all about.
My wife and I moved to California last year and chose Murrieta as a place to live because we could buy a comfortable home on a large lot. We have found Murrieta itself to be a copy of the rest of contemporary America, with its traffic-choked streets, strip malls, Wal-Mart, obsessive cellphone use, ubiquitous fast-food joints, overcrowded schools and the usual recall movements.
To its credit, Murrieta has from its incorporation in 1991 attempted to have a beautifully landscaped city, and in time it will be one of the prettiest cities in Southern California. How then, does one account for all those votes for President Bush?
As a former Republican believing in limited government and a balanced budget, I find it difficult to fathom the 59 million who voted for him, when, for so many, they were voting against their own best interests. What I find scary is even considering the possibility of so many American voters being duped by a Karl Rove/Bush smear campaign against Kerry accompanied by relentless lies and distortions of Bush's presidency.
Joe Russo of Murrieta takes Mexican immigrants to task for not having to "take tests" to enter the country and for having "diseases." These issues, he contends, help create "a national health and safety issue." He succinctly adds that these individuals "shouldn't be here." Funny, but that was exactly what established Americans said about his forebears and the 5 million other Italian immigrants who started coming to America barely a century ago. (The surname Russo is, of course, Italian.)
Overwhelmingly dirt poor -- and frequently physically ill -- folks from Italy's rural areas, they hopped aboard crammed ships bound for Ellis Island with little more than their families and their hopes for a better future. Blamed for everything including spreading disease, illiteracy and crime, they doggedly set down roots despite hostility from native-born Americans. And nearly three centuries prior, many of the people aboard the Mayflower unintentionally brought illnesses that killed many Native Americans, the population that lived here for more than 1,000 years. How quickly we forget.
I drove through Murrieta once just before the election on a drive from San Diego to Riverside. I remember it for the nondescript tract homes as far as the eye could see, and the large gold [Cadillac] Escalade with a huge Bush-Cheney banner plastered on the side door that tried to run me off the road (I assume because I sported a "Vets for Kerry" bumper sticker).
Judging from your interviews with many of the residents there's a lot of paranoia about the big, bad outside-of-talk-radio world out there. That's OK, they can have cookie-cutter Murietta and their atrocious commutes. I'll take an older, more diverse community any day.