As I anticipated the start of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. — after Hurricane Isaac safely permitted it — I was reminded how vicious and destructive the party of Lincoln, in the grips of the tea party and other ultra-right zealots, has become. Throw civility and respect out the door, and usher in nastiness and veiled threats to achieve control and power.

Never has a black man been subject to abasement and racism since Jackie Robinson broke the color line in 1947 by becoming the first black major league baseball player.

President Obama has been attacked by the “birthers,” who question his citizenship by denying his birth in Hawaii, by GOP politicians saying that the president is not a real American and that he is leading us to “European-style socialism,” or by uninformed people doubting his Christianity.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared early in 2009 that his main goal was to get Obama out of the White House. A Republican congressman even shouted, “You lie!” during one of Obama’s State of the Union addresses. Like Robinson, the president has handled attacks with strength and dignity and without retribution.

What is most disgusting is the lack of rejection of these attacks on the president by most GOP leaders. A noble exception is Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain’s rebuke of a woman’s verbal barrage against Democratic nominee Obama: “No, no, ma’am! Sen. Obama is a decent American and family man.”

Ross Paradis

Frenchville

As a lifelong Mainer and a first-generation college student, I am voting for Cynthia Dill because her dedication to bringing the privilege of opportunity to all of Maine’s citizens is something that I admire.

Though it would be easy to target the vagueness of Angus King’s platform, it’s his dearth of ideas that is truly startling. Dill puts into action what King puts into words — and then some. King espouses flimsy rhetoric of vowing to listen to the Maine people and compromise with others, the theory of which is awesome, the reality of which is more complex than he seems to realize.

Only after Dill’s campaign contacted King’s, days after the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, did King change his website to show his affirmation for parts of the bill. This hesitation in the presentation of his beliefs shows a resistance to getting down to business, a failure to embrace actual progress, and an out-of-touch air permeates his campaign.

King’s stance on gun control is also missing. Dill’s stance is not only clearly delineated online, but also infused with solid reasoning.

On many issues, Dill and King share similar opinions. King, like Dill, supports gay marriage, but as governor, King did nothing to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community. Dill has worked tirelessly in the Maine Legislature to promote LGBTQ issues.

The only one of the three foremost candidates who was actually born and raised in Maine, Dill is also the only candidate who has lived the reality of systemic inequality, fighting her way to the top to become a successful lawyer.

As Mainers, we care about integrity and hard work, not rhetoric, nostalgia and the vacuous ramblings of a man who already has too many friends in Washington, D.C.

Tom Letourneau

Dayton

On Aug. 14, Vice President Joe Biden told an audience of African Americans that Mitt Romney was going to put them “back in chains.”

The same day, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, interviewing former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, was reading from the Democratic talking points as she was challenging Gov. Sununu.

On Aug. 13, “60 Minutes” interviewed candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and left out a critical portion of the interview where they clearly said that they want to keep Medicare for existing recipients but want to offer other options to younger citizens.

What is going on?

I thought the general media — newspapers, television, et al. — was here to present us with unbiased reporting.

Why don’t we hear about Vice President Joe Biden’s assertions in the press?

Why would “60 Minutes” cut out a portion of an interview to those who are trying to learn about vice-presidential candidate Ryan?

I hope that the general public will begin to pay attention to both sides of the political fence and not just the network news or The Portland Press Herald or Bangor Daily News.

Let’s listen to everyone’s opinions and make a smart decision in November.

Robert Duke

Rockport

In a letter to the editor Aug. 19 (“Don’t reward leadership failure”), Jim Campbell of Peaks Island attempts to document what he calls President Obama’s “failed leadership” by claiming, “While there are many opinions about the Obama presidency, there is only one set of facts.”

Yes, there is only one set of facts, and Mr. Campbell’s letter seems to ignore most of them.

He makes no mention of the incontrovertible fact that virtually every pro-growth economic measure President Obama tried to get through Congress was either defeated by tea party Republicans in the House or blocked by GOP filibuster in the Senate.

On more than one occasion, the president tried to compromise, acceding to Republican demands in order to get something done for the sake of the country.

Perhaps the best known of these attempts is the so-called “Grand Bargain” between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner in July 2011.

Obama gave in to Republican demands to put Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid on the bargaining table in exchange for Republican agreement to discuss raising taxes on the rich and the nearly rich by roughly $100 billion a year over 10 years.

Bohener brought what he thought was a done deal back to the House, only to be embarrassed by his own party.

Mr. Campbell is right that the pace of economic recovery has been too slow. However, what he doesn’t mention is that the responsibility for that failure belongs almost entirely to right-wing ideologues in Congress.

In my opinion, the best solution for our nation is to re-elect President Obama and return a Democratic majority to both the House and the Senate. Perhaps then we could make some progress.

James Hayman

Peaks Island

Erskine Bowles was the chief of staff for former President Clinton, and in 2010 he was the co-chairman of the Simpson-Bowles Commission, convened by President Obama to come up with some recommendations to address the looming national debt. It is safe to say that when Mr. Bowles speaks of these matters one should — at least – listen.

The president rejected their recommendations, in the process ridiculing Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to address the deficit.

Ryan submitted a budget that passed the Republican-controlled House this past March. President Obama submitted one to the Senate in May.

Quickie quiz!

Q: What was Mr. Bowles’ opinion of Ryan’s budget?

A: “Sensible, straightforward and serious.”

Q: What was the Senate vote on President Obama’s budget?

A: In a Democratic-controlled Senate, the vote was a resounding 97-0 against the president’s budget. The vote in the House was 414-0.

Q: What was Mr. Bowles’ opinion of the president’s budget?

A: “I don’t think anyone took that budget very seriously.”

We have serious problems in this country, and we need serious people to deal with them.

Terence McManus

New Sharon

Attack ads, especially those funded by out-of-state interests, have no place in Maine’s elections.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents huge multinational corporations, has a vested interest in preserving loopholes and unfair advantages. Their attacks against Angus King are unfounded and distort his record as governor.

By contrast, the Maine Chamber of Commerce, which represents local companies and small businesses, has repudiated the U.S. Chamber’s ads and stands firmly behind Angus. Mainers still remember the prosperity our state enjoyed when Angus was governor, and his record speaks for itself.

I had the opportunity to meet Angus on a recent motorcycle ride, and I found he is a down-to-earth guy. He is both intelligent and filled with Maine sensibility. I am confident that as a senator from Maine, Angus will support a level playing field for businesses.

Moreover, Angus strives to do the right things, and he will not get caught in partisan squabbles. He will do his level best to ensure the money spent by the government is not wasted, but instead is an investment in our country with real benefits.

Angus King is running a positive campaign based on facts, accomplishments and plans for the future. Out-of-state special interests, which do not represent Mainers, have brought distortion and negativity into the race. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce should be ashamed of itself.

Nevin Brackett-Rozinsky

Limerick

Before reviewing Angus King’s history, I knew little of what he stood for as well as his accomplishments while in office. All I really knew was that under his administration, Maine’s economy improved from the recession of the early ’90s.

I had no idea he reduced the unemployment rate to 3.1 percent in 2001, that he founded Northeast Energy Management, Inc., that he was vice president of the alternative energy development company, Swift River/Hafslund, or that he helped to develop an operating wind farm in Roxbury, Mass.

I’ve also discovered that King was responsible for restoring Portland-Boston rail service, something I believe we are only just beginning to see the benefits of.

At a time when Congress has one of the lowest approval ratings in history, I believe King, being an independent, has the unique ability to cut through party lines and do what’s right for Maine and our people.

As an advocate for sustainable energy, small government and education reform, I believe that King embodies all that Maine stands for.

I can only hope that others here believe in him as much as I do, because Maine needs an independent like him in the Senate to make a stand for a more sustainable future.

Daniel E. Gagne

Brunswick