Letter: Free expression of ideas is at the core of our liberty

The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the newspaper by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press. To submit a letter, send it to or Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.

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To the editor:

The Echo Press recently published an essay on its website by former Democratic Congressman Lee Hamilton in which he suggests that the future of America depends upon setting aside “self-interest” among our politicians and even the electorate itself, as though self-interest in governance was something new.

Self-interest and factionalism have existed in this country forever. It was certainly as evident when the Constitution was written in 1787 as it is today. Self-interest and factionalism are not antithetical to a functioning democracy. There are checks and balances in the American system of government which allow for ideas to vigorously compete, while preserving the foundation of this country our founders so brilliantly conceived. There have been, of course, a number of tempests in the course of the American Experiment. Yet, albeit sometimes at great expense, we have endured them all.

The essay is bereft of specificity. Reading between the lines, he seems to be suggesting that wisdom and virtue are the exclusive province of people who think as he does.

It’s reminiscent of the Wilsonian notion that only an elite is capable of deciding the most important issues of our times and that everyone else must fall in line, if we are to save ourselves from ourselves.


I reject that completely. The boiling hot cauldron that our democracy sometimes resembles, is where we derive our strength as a nation, for it represents the free expression of ideas that are at the core of our liberty.

Michael J. Dempsey

Alexandria, MN

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