To the Editor:

"Divide et impera (divide and rule)," the ancient Roman maxim cited by Machiavelli, is the method that has been used effectively by America's political leaders since the Reagan era to carry out what Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer wrote about in "The War Against the Poor" in 1989.

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People with common needs have been separated and weakened by an endless barrage if speeches and articles from leading politicians, corporate-controlled media, and conservative think tanks. Blacks have been pitted against Hispanics, working people against moderate Christians, youths against adults and women against men. Those in position of power and wealth condemn any mention of a class struggle as socialist and un-American.

In the current political races, we see the saddest example of this self-destructive antipathy in the tendency of women -- especially white women and older people -- to support Hillary Clinton and deride Barack Obama, while blacks and young people tend to support Obama and deride Clinton.

The message of John Edwards, that the real struggle is between the wealthy few and the growing masses of working poor, has thus far failed to convince the majority.

We the people must come together if we are to regain our failing democracy. We must see clearly our common interests --peace and safety, jobs, health care, education, housing, environmental preservation -- and not be fooled by false appeals to fear and insecurity, hatred and intolerance, which keep us divided and weak. A biblical proverb (29:11) says it well: "Where there is no vision, the people perish."