Thanks to John C. “Chuck” Chalberg (“The most-important election in history? Curb your enthusiasm,” Jan. 19) for a thoughtful and exciting run through pivotal elections in American history.

Although 1980 may have struck out on three of his four criteria — great issue, great debate, close call — it hit the fourth criterion right out of the ballpark. That fourth one was “consequential result.”

President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 tax law cut the top personal income tax from 70% to 50%. His 1986 tax law cut the top personal income tax down to 28%. Lots of other provisions in these laws went in the same direction.

The rich have been getting richer ever since, and hiding their wealth offshore, while everybody else has been stuck in a rut or getting poorer.

Talk about a pivotal election that really changed America: 1980 was a big one. It started a process that changed the course of American history for 40 years and is still going on.

J.R. Christianson, Minneapolis

• • •

How could Chalberg fail to do a summary of the 1876 election? The results of the Tilden-Hayes contested election, amid accusations of ballot fraud, etc., had Tilden, at first, appearing to have won the popular vote (like Hillary Clinton). The final results of that election was a D-R compromise that effectively ended the Reconstruction era. No longer were the rights of blacks upheld by the federal government, disenfranchising blacks for the next 100-plus years. Elections do matter!

Grace McGarvie, Plymouth

• • •

Chalberg’s essay was informative and entertaining, but missed a huge subject for debate in the upcoming election.

Climate change is, and will be, the most consequential problem the entire world will face in the coming decades. Another four years of the Trump administration will probably lock in irreversible climate change, with mass extinctions, overwhelming natural-disaster events, and famine producing loss of arable land and fisheries.

I’d say that makes debating the existence of the “deep state” of relatively little importance.

David Brockway, Hopkins


A blessing for rural America and for any remote location

When I was a social worker helping to provide integrated health and sustainable development services to remote communities in southern India, we consistently relied upon the presence of what are called auxiliary nurse midwives (ANM) to provide optimal pre- and postnatal care while ensuring safe deliveries. It was and still is the only lifesaving option immediately available for many rural women (“Midwives can deliver rural results,” Science+Health, Jan. 19).

World Health Organization data show that 83% of all maternal deaths, stillbirths and newborn deaths could be averted with the full package of midwifery care.

This proven model will best serve rural America and wherever the need exists.

Vincent Peters, New Brighton


Trump policy has winners and losers, and the winners are not us

The Jan. 19 front-page article “A rural test: Struggling farmers weigh their support for Trump” skirts the fact that farmers are being used as political pawns. So, the U.S. puts tariffs on Chinese goods; China retaliates with tariffs on soybeans; exports of beans to China come to a standstill; and prices drop big-time. President Donald Trump feels sorry for struggling farmers and sends them a subsidy, hoping they will vote for him the next go-round. China, meanwhile, decides it will partly lift the bean tariff; beans are cheaper; China buys beans at a huge discount and can’t wait for phase one of a new trade deal. China, which hasn’t even honored purchase contracts on grain in the past, now says it will buy huge amounts agricultural products going forward. Signed deal may lift prices a tiny amount, then China will default on purchases, prices will drop again and China will get cheap beans. The winner: China. The loser: the American taxpayer and the farmer. No farmer should vote for this administration based on agriculture policy.

Robert Ewert, Mountain Lake, Minn.

The writer is a retired farmer.


Can’t any adviser stand up to him?

I, like our current president, have no military experience. My questions here should be seen in that light. The Jan. 19 article “Inside Trump’s stunning tirade,” adapted from the book “A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America,” which was published on Tuesday, described the rage Donald Trump spewed at his top-level military advisers. During a meeting in the Pentagon’s “Tank,” he called them “dopes and babies” fighting “a loser war” in Afghanistan. It was a vivid display of his ignorance and his arrogance as a self-described “very stable genius.”

Will someone explain to me why these high-level advisers with years of experience did not stand up, literally or figuratively, and call him out, and, with their own anger and embarrassment, tell him how offensive he was being? What if they had all stood up and left the room rather than continue to silently witness his juvenile display? Finally, how do we, as citizens, weigh the consequences of either response, i.e., a deserved verbal rebuke or stunned silence?

Wayne L. Hornicek, St. Paul


I don’t like it

Target, oh, Target, where have you gone? My Edina Target has remodeled. Sigh. It is no longer a place I like to visit. And I get that corporate office is trying to keep up with the changing market, but they blew it. Again. A few years back they removed the reasonably sized and priced ready-food section of pizza, hot dogs, popcorn fit for a harried customer and kids and replaced it with a pricey Italian sit-down venue lacking grab-and-go. A $10 pasta meal? Nope. It squeaked by for a few years. Now, just the Starbucks and package deli case.

Did I mentioned the blaring music? Hearing Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” and disco stompers while in the restroom? Just what I don’t want.

Went in for a few common items — a small humidifier and white ankle socks —and found only two types of humidifiers and no such socks. Plenty of adult-sized tiger and other animal PJs with feet. (Really??) Well, OK, just a single serve of fresh OJ for the car. Nope, but, 30 kinds of power drinks, even some without kale.

Funny, I remember the original Target in Roseville growing up in the 1960s, where you could get a variety of useful stuff, without the music, and it had a grocery too. Goodbye, Tar-jay!

Jean Mitchell, Edina


Opinion editor’s note: For further context, see “Target begins makeovers,” published March 23, 2019 (

We want to hear from you. Send us your thoughts here.