Electoral College, politicians’ ages, downtown Minneapolis, diversity in business

Date:

Opinion editor’s note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.

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As usual, D.J. Tice’s electoral college column (“The Electoral College: democracy’s best defense?” Opinion Exchange, July 30) was thoughtful and well presented. It may even have some merit. It is important, however, to keep in mind the context of the original intent of the Electoral College. It was created as a compromise for the slave states (the Three-Fifths Compromise) as well as those that simply wanted state legislatures to select the president. In essence it was created because the founding fathers did not trust the “common voter.” (A fear that has certainly been borne out by the last couple elections.) It failed immediately when tested in 1796, which then resulted in the 12th Amendment. Then it was essentially turned over to the two political parties. (Keep in mind there is no mention of political parties in the Constitution.) It has generally worked. In only five elections has the loser of the popular vote won via the Electoral College — two of those in the last 23 years. But that was when there was only one America. Like just prior to the Civil War, we no longer are.

The results of the studies quoted, while interesting, are wholly theoretical. Here’s what is not theoretical: In 2016 Trump lost by a “mere” 3 million popular votes but won the presidency. In 2020, if he had earned just tens of thousands more popular votes in a few states, he would again have won the election — while losing the popular vote by 7 million. At what point do all those disenfranchised voters (both blue and red) and states say, “That’s enough, we’re done?!”

I submit that if the results in 2016 had been reversed, we would have already voted on a change to the Constitution, which would negate the need for the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact that Tice laments.

D. Roger Pederson, Minneapolis

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Tice’s July 30 column proposed that the Electoral College might be the safest way to protect the presidential election against fraud. He cites work by two academics that purport to show via a complex mathematical model that changing the outcomes of an election is made more difficult by the intense scrutiny in closely divided swing states and that running up totals in solidly red or blue states is useless because of the Electoral College. Not mentioned by Tice nor the academics in their paper is the effort that actually happened in 2020: the intentional creation of fake electors in solidly red states. Although the scheme failed, it only failed because of a few elected officials of the same party refused to collaborate on the fraud. Ignoring such a near miss when discussing electoral fraud seems to be a mistake when discussing the value of the Electoral College in avoiding it.

Timothy R. Church, St. Paul

POLITICIANS

These days it seems the best way to sell an idea is with a catchy phrase or slogan. These manufactured sayings often rhyme to make them easy to remember.

I’m going to suggest this approach could be used to place an upper limit on the age of those who hold public office. With the notable mental failings of politicians such as President Joe Biden, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and now Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, all of whom are 80 or older, certainly 80 years of age should be the upper age limit for anyone holding public office.

With that in mind, how about something like, “79 is the end of the line.” Or, “You’re past your prime at 79.” Then there’s, “It’s time to go when you hit 8-0.”

Why do I think an upper age limit is needed and necessary? Because in times of national crisis we need leaders, politicians and clear-thinking decisionmakers who are mentally fit to make the life-or-death decisions on war or peace that affect all of us. The last thing we need are feebleminded, addled or Alzheimer’s-afflicted ancients who cling to power way past their mental prime.

Russell L. Prince, Apple Valley

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Democratic voters are worried that Joe Biden will become incapacitated during the 2024 presidential term. Most don’t have confidence in Vice President Kamala Harris due to her infrequent, not-impressive appearances since 2020. Independents also have the same concern. A third-party candidate will likely attract some votes away from Democrats and independents. The only solution to ensure the best voter turnout for the Democrats is to accept a resignation from Harris.

Biden is too nice of a guy to ask her for it since they have had a close relationship since they took office. This VP position should be filled with a younger, experienced Democratic politician with campaign experience. A likely choice would be a governor. There would, therefore, be a less of a need for a third-party candidate to run. But Harris has to do it for the team — for the benefit of the Democratic Party. This would give a high probability for a Democratic win in 2024.

Tim Diegel, Edina

DOWNTOWN

From the late 1980s into the mid-1990s I was a resident of downtown Minneapolis and frequently worked in the downtown area. I eventually moved to Illinois and Michigan, and did not have the opportunity to visit the downtown Minneapolis area until earlier this summer when I gave a presentation to a national organization of state governments.

Upon entering the city from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport all seemed to be familiar. Until I entered the inner city. Tragically, it looked more like an abandoned city than the once-vibrant downtown I remembered. The Aquatennial Parade was going on, which brought life to the city, but upon its completion it returned to a dark, desolate existence that did not invite people to patronize downtown businesses. From my hotel it appeared all of the commercial buildings were vacant, which is a national problem and not unique to Minneapolis.

Upon watching the local news, I saw that coverage of the Minneapolis City Council was more concerned with national systemic racism than the deterioration of your own community. Revitalizing your city after COVID lockdowns and the destruction wrought by Black Lives Matter rioting might serve Minneapolis better in the long term. Statistically, your city is starting to lose population — and this isn’t the primary issue of local leaders’ concern?

How sad that you’ve continued to elect leaders seemingly incapable of solving local problems regarding your tax base to fund schools, parks and public safety, who continue to use the city platform to try to solve national problems beyond their control.

Paul E. Traynor, Grand Forks, N.D.

TOP EXECUTIVES

I like the suggestion by Myron Medcalf that the Star Tribune publish a list of women and executives of color and report on their roles at major Minnesota-based companies (“Lily white CEO list highlights wealth gap,” July 30). I suspect, however, that Medcalf would be very surprised to learn that such a feature could fill the business section every day for many months. At my large public company employer, for example, there are five people on the organization chart between our CEO and me. Only one of them is a white man, while the other four include a Black man, two immigrants of color (one man and one woman) and one white woman. Companies are diversifying their leadership teams, but not because activists or journalists are criticizing them. Instead, companies are doing so because having a broader mix of talent and deeper connections to their increasingly diverse customers and vendors is good for business.

Jerry Anderson, Minneapolis

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