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Thursday Letters: Don’t underestimate Duckworth’s chances in fall

U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth D-Ill., speaks after she won the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate against Andrea Zopp, former president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League and state Sen. Napoleon Harris in the Democratic primary, Tuesday, March 15, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Neil Steinberg’s column “Zopp never had a shot” is a wishful look toward November, where he sees incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk winning handily against U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth. He asserts that Zopp had the proper pedigree to become the candidate: an African-American, Harvard law graduate, U.S. attorney, head of Chicago chapter of the Urban League and corporate boardroom star.SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes.

What Steinberg failed to state is that Zopp was also voting on the Chicago School Board to close 53 public schools, That, and the fact that Zopp had little public exposure, other than when she prosecuted Mel Reynolds.First, Tammy Duckworth has at least seven ethnic mixtures, including African American and Asian, so she is, in a way, more of an American girl.Steinberg’s assertion that Kirk will win handily is almost laughable. Kirk barely won in 2010, against a candidate whose family owned a failed bank, and Kirk was able to paint him as the reason it failed, even though he was the state treasurer at the time, and had little to nothing to do with the bank.Kirk has done almost nothing to help Illinoisans; his most notable support is for the state of Israel, and his vengeful and irrational opposition to the agreement with Iran to stop its nuclear development. Kirk wanted more war.Tammy Duckworth, who didn’t exaggerate her military record as Kirk has, and has a lifelong reminder of her service, will defeat Kirk by a wide margin.I look forward to Steinberg’s column after the November election, and why Kirk lost.Jim Ally, EvanstonLearn from history

As Irish Americans prepare to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, we might consider a lesson from our own history … especially for any intending to vote for Donald Trump in upcoming primary elections.

Consider this political platform: blaming immigrants (they are taking our jobs); demonizing a religion; and appealing to a dangerous nostalgia to return to a simpler, more homogenous (read white/Protestant) America. This is 2016 and these are Donald Trump’s positions.

But in the mid-1800s, when our Irish ancestors were boarding “coffin ships” to escape famine in Ireland and were disembarking in large numbers in the ports of New York and Boston, a political movement was afoot urging “real” Americans to blockade the ports and send the Irish back to Ireland, content to see them die of hunger and poverty. All this in pursuit of a “pure” America, free of degenerate Irish immigrants and the dangerous Catholic religion they professed.

This group of patriots didn’t call themselves Republicans, but in a remarkable sense of self-awareness, were known as the “Know Nothings.” Had Donald Trump been alive at the time, he would have fit right in.

So, sons and daughters of Erin, put on the green this week, but leave the Trump hat home. Had his policies prevailed, you wouldn’t be here celebrating … you likely wouldn’t be here period. Donald Trump and his Know Nothings never would have let your ancestors past the blockade.

Michael P. Malone, Glen Ellyn

Leadership needed

Somehow one gets the idea that the Illinois Legislature and Democratic majority believe the primary and general election will sort things out and the budget problem will go away. We hear the same refrain, wait until the next election. The problems are obvious, the budget is way out of balance, revenues are way short of what is needed to cover union contracts, pension obligations, programs such as social services, education, law enforcement and courts.

This is not a mystery. Taxes need to go up, programs and benefits need to go down. Since the Democrats wish to protect unions and pensions, funding for education and social services needs large cuts. Just to keep programs at current levels, taxes need to go way up. It is not as if the wealthy receive large benefits from the state other than education, and their support can be reduced. It’s time for the legislative Democrats to make choices and take action. Where is the leadership?

Thomas Cechner, Lockport

Keeping a grip

Once again, Michael Madigan retains his iron grip on Illinois politics and purse strings with just 15,753 votes in a state with a population of 12.8 million people. Something is definitely wrong here.

Neil J. Blum, Glenview

Tough job

The U.S. presidency is the toughest job in today’s world, requiring extraordinary dedication, breadth of knowledge and political skills; if he were to win, I wonder if Donald Trump might come to regret having wished for it. The win would stroke his ego, but then he would have the stress and demands of the job.

Mary F. Warren, Wheaton