D.J. Tice, in his Oct. 28 column, says money in politics is not the problem; politicians are. Actually, money is the problem. It undermines the fundamental principle of representative democracy: that leaders are elected to represent their constituents. Elected leaders are torn between their constitutional responsibility to constituents and their human gratitude to donors, many of whom may live outside the district. In columnist Lori Sturdevant’s words the same day (“As economy hums, races drum up fear”), “local campaigns are increasingly (and overly) nationalized.” Too often, the understandably grateful officials express their appreciation by representing donors’ interests, leaving constituents without representation. Constituents quite rightly feel that their interests are represented only occasionally.
The most commonly recommended solution is more transparency. But that leaves the conflict between donor and constituent interests intact. The problem requires a more radical solution. Because the right of campaign contribution is really an extension of the right to vote, not the right to free speech, there should be limits on contributing similar to the limits on voting.
First, just as only citizens can vote, only citizens should have the right to contribute. “Artificial entities” like corporations and unions should not have the right to contribute, just as they do not have the right to vote. However, they would remain represented in both the electoral and contribution processes by their employees, members and customers.
Second, just as a person can vote only for candidates in the district where they live, they should be able to contribute only to candidates running for office in the district where they live. This would ensure that both the voters and the contributors to whom elected officials are indebted would be constituents.
Third, just as voters can vote for a candidate only once, they should be limited in the amount they can contribute to candidates.
Neither voting limits nor campaign limits unduly restrict free speech. Contribution limits are essential to the most fundamental principle of representative democracy: that the interests of constituents are represented in government by their elected leaders. That principle has been severely undermined in recent years, most notably by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. To paraphrase the nation’s founders, no legislation without representation.
Mark L. Davison, Maple Grove
TRUTH AND LIES
What we know, despite what the president says
We would like the sitting president to stop his outright telling of lies. Give us the truth, and we as voters will make our determination.
Despite the lies, this is what we know just today:
We know the stock market did not open the day after 9/11; it opened 9/17.
We know that it takes an amendment to change the Constitution (Article V), not merely an executive order; we had a ninth-grade civics course.
We know that the U.S. is not the only country to grant the rights of citizenship to those born on our soil; more than 30 countries do, including Canada and Mexico, and it is easy for the president to discover as he has a phone.
We know that plain common decency should have canceled a campaign rally on the day that a domestic terrorist took 11 innocent lives in their Pittsburgh house of worship; his proclaimed bad-hair day should not have been considered.
We know that 3,500 people fleeing their Central American homes because of extreme poverty and fear are not the barbarians at the door invading our southern border; they are mainly women and children, walking 25 miles per day and 1,000 miles away.
We know that Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush previously sent the National Guard to the southern border, and that those dedicated individuals are U.S. military despite how the present president dismissed them as that saying he has now sent “the military.”
We know that the centuries-old free press is not the enemy of the people, but is essential to a healthy and progressive democracy; a lying, manipulating, misdirecting president is not.
Tuesday, Nov. 6 is our day as voters to decide between lies and truth.
Tom and Claudia O’Neill, Burnsville
• • •
I voted early in the midterm election. I won’t tell you who I voted for, nor will I tell you who to cast your ballot for. I will tell you what I voted for and why. I voted for the Earth — because I have children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
The actuary tells me that since I am a man and live in Minnesota, I have 20 years of life left to enjoy. The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report says that we have 12 years to implement massive changes to our global energy infrastructure in an attempt to limit climate change to moderate levels.
There are many issues that I generally think about when casting my ballot. But today, I thought 12 years ahead, to when my granddaughter will be 16. I hope our conversation isn’t, “Papa, when did you guys know about climate change and why didn’t you do anything?” That isn’t the legacy I want to leave behind. Today, I voted for my little Grasshopper — and for her Earth.
Patrick Collins, Lindstrom, Minn.
MINNESOTA VALLEY STATE TRAIL
A significant wildlife refuge is growing more fully accessible
The Minnesota Valley Trail described in the Oct. 26 article about new Minnesota bike trails is a long time in coming. The Bloomington segment to be built within the next year or two between Lyndale and Cedar avenues, combined with the newly renovated Old Cedar Avenue Bridge and trailhead, will become the major gateway to the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Together, these projects will allow thousands of nearby urban residents to easily enjoy one of America’s most significant National Wildlife Refuges. This fantastic natural area abounding with wildlife formerly inaccessible by many is within a stone’s throw of the Mall of America.
The new Bloomington trail segment will create an 8-mile paved trail loop from the new Cedar Avenue Trailhead upstream in Bloomington to a new Intersate 35W river crossing, then downstream on the Burnsville Black Dog Trail to the existing Hwy. 77 trail crossing and back to the Old Cedar Avenue Trailhead.
The wildlife refuge now protects about 14,000 acres of wild Minnesota Valley flood plain extending 45 miles upstream. The new Bloomington segment of the Minnesota Valley State Trail will allow visitors of all types to enjoy the natural surroundings of the wildlife refuge and visit one of the state’s top birding locations at the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge across Long Meadow Lake.
Ed Crozier, Burnsville
The writer is a retired wildlife manager.
One more thing: Don’t omit serials
I agree with the previous letter writers about the disappointing and diminished size of Sunday’s comics. I’d also like the Star Tribune to consider putting “Judge Parker” in the Sunday comics. That strip runs six days a week — clearly the editors want us to read it. But the Sunday comic is not printed and is actually a crucial part of the soap opera’s story line. Followers of “Judge Parker” have to look it up online on Sundays. If you’re going to run a serial comic in the paper, please run all of it — not just six-sevenths of the story.
Linda Koutsky, Minneapolis