Regarding "You're never too old to plié" (Nov. 27), about a ballet class designed for students age 55 and older: What a beautiful story! Thank you to the reporter. A fantastic job finding and reporting on a worthy topic of what is happening in St. Paul and how it is changing lives of seniors. I thought the choice of quotes from a handful students made the article so heartfelt. It's such a hopeful story of being vulnerable and trying something out of your comfort zone, sticking with it, finding beauty and feeling beautiful in your body.
I am 52 years old, so not yet able to register for the class. But I am so inspired that I am going to sign up for a regular ballet class while I wait three years to join Boomer Ballet.
Leah (Becky) Meyer, Minneapolis
The kidnapped are not 'detained'
Words matter. In the headline "Hamas, Israel swap first detainees," printed Nov. 25, the word "detainee" is used to describe both sets of people. The word obscures too many differences between the two groups being released. It would be more appropriate to call the Israelis what they are. Civilians. Children who were abducted by terrorists after they watched their parents murdered before their eyes. It is not until the very end of the article that we see the Palestinians being released include prisoners convicted of stabbing attacks, including 16-year-old Nafoz Hamad of Jerusalem, who was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison for stabbing her neighbor in front of her five small children. The word "detainee" should never be used to equate these groups.
Another questionable word used to describe Israel is "colonial," which seems to be used mostly to justify anything and everything done to Israeli Jews, including the atrocities of Oct. 7.
Daniel Sperling, Minneapolis
Enjoy your secret ballot
When observing the consternation generated by worrying how to treat those who vote differently than you do, one thought keeps occurring to me: the secret ballot. We have the right and privilege of voting that way, and there is no reason that anyone has to let anyone else know who they voted for, or even if they voted! There are people who feel that those who vote differently may be ill-informed or misguided but not that they necessarily have a fatal character flaw that negates everything else about them. Conversely, there are also people who simply feel that those who vote differently are evil and irredeemable, and nothing else about them matters.
Keeping your voting information private may be maddening and perplexing to those who would otherwise like to put everyone else neatly into "good/evil" or "my team/other team" boxes, but it would probably make the world a little more tolerable, forcing some benefit of the doubt — which is in short supply these days.
Cynthia Smith, Edina
I challenged an incumbent of my own party in 2018, the same year Dean Phillips first ran. I threw my hat in the ring while it wasn't quite vacant yet — the incumbent was mired in a lengthy public debate about running for governor. When the incumbent decided to run for "his seat" again instead, I became persona non grata at party events, tirelessly dodging the "How dare she challenge him?" comments and stares.
These events were often lonely affairs, except when Phillips was there. While most elected or preferred candidates ignored me at best, Phillips would sprint across the room to say hello. He was enthusiastic and fair, treating everyone interested in running for office equally no matter how it was viewed by others. I knew then that he possessed a level of integrity bordering on naiveté — or perhaps we have grown cynical to the point of confusing the two.
This profound integrity was on full display when he announced he wouldn't run for Congress again, allowing those already in the ring to move forward unimpeded. This will undoubtedly aid the DFL as it works to retain the seat, something it was unable to do in my district in 2018. I'm not naive enough to think I'll have the honor of voting for Phillips in November, but I'll be immensely proud to vote for him in March during the presidential primary.
Leah Phifer, Minneapolis
The writer ran for the DFL endorsement in Minnesota's Eighth Congressional District in 2018.
I'm reaching out to Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith to see if they can influence our president in any way. I'm seeing an unfortunate parallel to late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. In her case, she was aging with a number of health issues. She had the opportunity to resign during the Obama administration but chose to remain on the Supreme Court. Why? We will never know for sure, but it's likely a combination of the love of power, a desire to continue to exert her influence on the American legal system and perhaps a touch of hubris. We all know how her decision has impacted the Supreme Court and will continue to impact the court for decades to come.
Biden faces a similar decision — whether to continue on or hand the torch off to another Democratic candidate to challenge Trump. While it seems like he's made his decision, it's not too late to go another direction. The early polling is ominous for Biden. Clearly, people are most concerned about something that he can't change — his age. The re-election of former President Trump, should that happen, will also impact our democracy for decades to come.
A repeat of a Bader Ginsberg situation is preventable, but only for a short time. Klobuchar and Smith, please help!
Michael Marchand, Prescott, Ariz.
High court must step in
A Section 3 object lesson from an era of racial terror: Georgia 1868.
Marshall Tanick nicely summarized three recent decisions bearing on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment ("Trump and the ballots: Three strikes and he's on," Opinion Exchange, Nov. 22). One likely scenario is this: The Colorado Supreme Court affirms the finding that Donald Trump engaged in insurrection but reverses the legal ruling and finds Trump is subject to Section 3. The U.S. Supreme Court then accepts the case. How the high court will rule is anyone's guess.
An important Section 3 precedent — apparently overlooked in all the law review articles, legal briefs and commentaries — underscores how important it is that the U.S. Supreme Court weigh in. In July 1868, the Georgia Legislature violated Section 3 by not expelling members who had engaged in rebellion. This was followed in August by expulsion of over 20 Black legislators, in September by the infamous "Camilla massacre" at a Black political rally, and through November by a widespread campaign of terror and voter intimidation. The U.S. Senate refused to seat a purported senator who had been elected by a Legislature that was in violation of Section 3.
More to the point, in February 1869 Congress did not actually count Georgia's purported electoral votes. The questions were whether Georgia's violation of Section 3 meant the state had not ratified the 14th Amendment in the manner required by relevant legislation and, hence, whether it was entitled to any representation in Congress at all. If not, Georgia was not entitled to any electoral votes.
As Georgia illustrates, Section 3 questions have and can arise during the count of electoral votes. In 1869 the outgoing Congress counted the votes in February; Congress had two months to decide what to do. Today, it is the incoming Congress that counts; Congress would have a couple days to decide.
With Trump's campaign seemingly careening toward neo-fascism (or worse), it may be better for the nation that the Supreme Court address the factual and legal issues in coming months than that they be left for Congress to decide between Jan. 4-6, 2025.
Mark Bohnhorst, Minneapolis
The writer is co-author (with Michael W. Fitzgerald) of "Reconstruction, Racial Terror and the Electoral College" (Spring 2024, Journal of the Civil War Era).