D.J. Tice (“Don’t be too quick to scrap the Electoral College,” April 14) misses the point about eliminating the Electoral College, beginning with his concern about circumventing the Constitution.
The Constitution does not require the current winner-take-all process. It says states can determine any system, including the National Popular Vote proposal, which is gaining support. This interstate compact would guarantee the presidency to the candidate receiving the most popular votes nationally.
Tice refers to California, an excellent example of why to scrap our 50 state elections. How are Republican Californians motivated to vote in a reliably blue state, knowing their vote won’t matter? Or Democrats in Texas or any dark-red state? As a result, presidential candidates focus their time, money and policy proposals on 10 to 15 battleground states. The other two-thirds of states are mostly ignored.
Tice refers to the intentions of the Founders, but they lived in a very different country — smaller, less-diverse, less-educated, and facing fewer critical issues. He claims the Framers and subsequent reformers “have never found a single type of question … best submitted to a nationwide popular vote.” That question is: “Who should be president?” Someone who represents every one of us, not just a base, or those in a few states that tipped the balance, but every American in every state — red, blue or purple.
Yes, Mr. Tice, “the game would change quite a lot under different rules.” And so would presidential politics and the presidency itself. Is that a bad thing? Maybe presidential candidates need to earn every single vote!
Karen Lilley, St. Paul
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Tice is correct that the Founders’ purposes of the Electoral College were to “govern a hugely varied population” and guard against a potential “tyranny of the majority.” First, if we were to change the Electoral College, Tice need not be concerned about “consolidated at-large majorities” (or cities) having too much power. Other tools would remain to address this, such as the checks and balances among the three branches of government, the rigorous requirements for amending the Constitution and the existence of the Senate (which arguably empowers small states the most).
The Electoral College, on the other hand, is ripe for change. The Founders had impeccable foresight except on one major point: the emergence and dominance of the two-party system. Instead, they anticipated multiple parties competently vying for the presidency. Under that scenario, their concerns seem on point — they wanted to prevent any one party becoming a monopoly of presidential politics.
Under the two-party system, however, the Electoral College fails its original purpose. Instead, it only serves to shift the upper hand in presidential elections from one party to the other, not to multiple others. In this sense, by overrepresenting states with smaller populations that reliably vote for the Republican candidate, the Electoral College furthers the creation of a “tyranny” of the minority. This overrepresentation of smaller states is utterly arbitrary, as no “community of place, belief, and walk of life” has an inherent right to a stronger vote. Of course, Tice is correct that changing our system would change presidential politics, but any ensuing inconveniences are not a justification for an unfair, undemocratic system.
Luke Anton, St. Anthony
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Tice delivers a reasoned and long-overdue defense of the Electoral College system, a defense that is particularly timely in light of proposals for direct election of the president by Robert O’Rourke, Elizabeth Warren and other Democratic presidential contenders.
As Tice notes, many of the reasons for maintaining the Electoral College are as valid today as they were when the Constitution was ratified. Besides lessening the possibility that a handful of the most populous states would perpetually decide our presidential elections, the current system promotes greater certainty of outcome and discourages the parliamentary-style proliferation of multiple fringe parties (due to “winner take all” in 48 states).
It is no accident that proposals for abolishing the Electoral College are emanating from the Democratic Party, as direct election would ensure its domination of the presidency for the foreseeable future. While “one man, one vote” may be an attractive campaign slogan, its promoters would do well to heed Madison’s admonition that the tyranny of the majority is the first step in the devolution of a representative democracy into a dictatorship.
Peter D. Abarbanel, Apple Valley
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I love my North Dakota sister, but her vote for president has 2.5 times the weight of mine and four times the weight of our California cousin’s vote. Because it is a vote for our nation’s highest office, it is not only unfair but simply wrong.
David Strand, Aitkin, Minn.
Former congressional candidate gets high-paying job way too easily
What a surprise! Minnesota’s Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) has hired a DFL operative to a $100,000 civil-service position after having posted the job for only 24 hours (“IRRRB accused of DFL cronyism,” April 19). I’m disappointed to read that no one, from the governor’s office to the IRRRB itself will take responsibility for ignoring the seven-day minimum posting for state jobs as required by the Minnesota Management and Budget agency. Perhaps that is a policy for the new hire to implement at the IRRRB.
Paul Hager, Northfield
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It’s a good thing that the IRRRB was able to secure Joe Radinovich’s services for its staff, just in the nick of time. It only had to reduce the typical 21-day job posting process to 24 hours! A big thank you to Gov. Tim Walz, who after this blatant bypass of the state’s job posting standards now has slammed the door on future circumventions of the job-posting process. Sadly, the screen door missed Mr. Radinovich on his way in.
I am not an Iron Ranger, but I feel certain that the community deserves better than rushing to hire defeated politicians to fill its six-figure jobs. I am sure Radinovich will recuse himself from another run for the Eighth Congressional District seat in order to serve the business community of the Iron Range. Won’t he?
Mark D. Hayes, Chanhassen
‘Professional Aunt, NO KIDS’
Hey, what about uncles?
Aunts are rightly celebrated in the April 17 article “Aunties ante up.” But why was there absolutely no mention of uncles? While involved aunts no doubt greatly outnumber involved uncles, I’m sure there were loving uncles to be found who have made a huge difference for their nieces and nephews. Why not even a token acknowledgment of their existence?
Imagine how discouraging it is for a loving and committed uncle to read not only this feature but article after article noting the contributions of aunts with no mention of uncles. This is how men are marginalized in the lives of children — by being ignored or excluded, by being assumed incompetent or disinterested, and by being perceived as a liability rather than a resource.
That may not have been the intent of the “Aunties” feature, but that is the effect. In fact, men are perfectly capable of being just as nurturing, loving and supportive of children as women. By marginalizing men, we are excluding half the potential adult resources from the lives of children. Children can ill-afford this loss. And women need the full participation of men in child rearing — we will never have gender equality in our society as long as we continue to push men away from children.
Phil Grove, Minneapolis