Issues First, Then Candidates

I'm responding to David Stein's well-intentioned Commentary piece (May 31) regarding the passing of Gary Hart's torch in terms of Orange County Democratic politics. Stein raised several issues. But the most important is what happens when "we" get too involved with a candidate. And it works on both sides of the fence. We're all Americans with a political conscience.

Most of us know the image Orange County has with California Democrats. And beyond that, is it no wonder that Midwestern and Eastern Democrats have a lot of fun and one-liners with "our kingdom by the sea."

Neither of the major political parties has a cornerstone on ethics or morality. And many of the Orange County Republican "leaders" are strangely silent in the wake of the Iran-Contra hearings.

I liked Gary Hart. I admire David Stein's feelings. But I also feel, after a number of campaigns, that the way to get involved is with the issues first and the candidates second.

Stein mentions that the Hart campaign was a force for positive change. Basically that's what all Democrats stand for, be they Kennedys, Trumans, Mondales, Harts, Stevensons or Jacksons. There are some Republicans who feel the same way.

Setbacks are common to both major political parties. The Republicans overcame the Watergate Scandal just as they did Teapot Dome.

The Democrats can do the same. What happened to Gary Hart may be a blessing in disguise. Hopefully the Gary Hart 25-day campaign will get us away from images and closer to issues. In the final analysis that may be Gary Hart's legacy. And it's not a bad one. Even for Orange County.

FRANK McADAMS

Dana Point

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