Between now and Sunday, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar will decide whether to join the throng of other Democrats running for president in 2020 (“Senator plans big reveal at local rally,” front page, Feb. 6). She’s probably done accepting advice from others on whether it would be a good idea to say “yes” to that path. But I hope that before she jumps from Senate responsibilities into presidential preparations she looks again at all she has accomplished as a senator, and all she would be able to accomplish if she stayed out of the race for the White House.

In fact, I wish all of the senators and representatives already running or thinking of running would do that. The imperial presidency is alive and well, and the only thing protecting the people of this country from a true autocracy becoming entrenched is a strong and effective legislature.

Throwing themselves into a chance to work in the Oval Office as it currently operates means sitting in the throne of the republic instead of dismantling that throne by standing up to it. If we truly have become a country in which the government and its decisions are the domain of the president, then we might as well admit the great American experiment with representative democracy has been a failure.

David Rask Behling, Albert Lea, Minn.

• • •

Klobuchar would/will make a tremendous president, perhaps the most competent and high-integrity Democrat to come along in years. But I agree that she should not run now, in part because of the busy field of candidates. But more than that, she is becoming known on the national political stage, but would greatly benefit from the increased and increasing exposure she will surely command. In her case, an increasing public profile is happening, and every addition to that profile is almost inevitably positive. Klobuchar’s voice is needed in the U.S. Senate, where she stands out whenever she opens her mouth. In this hyperpartisan era, she is the voice of reason and reasoned compromise, a voice that always has a light and humorous touch. That said, she takes clear positions on whatever issues she elects to address and is unafraid of conflict. She is unique in today’s politics, and we shouldn’t waste her or risk her in a premature run for president.

John F. Hetterick, Plymouth

U.S. REP. BETTY MCCOLLUM

It’s time for a real challenge to this long tenure in the House

With the 2020 election already starting on the presidential side, people are even starting to wonder about the Senate and House elections. I live in the Fourth District of Minnesota, and my member of Congress is Betty McCollum. She is a Democrat and has been serving in the House since the early 2000s. I am a Democrat myself, more toward the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Kamala Harris side of the party than toward the McCollum side. The main reason is that she has not gotten anything done, takes large amounts of money from corporate PACs and has kept her seat without primary challenges.

I am calling for a young, smart Democratic woman to challenge her in the 2020 primary. We cannot continue to let these members of Congress keep their seats until they die. We need to let new people take those seats no matter how old, where they were born or who they decide to marry. We need more freshman members of Congress, and we need them in the next election cycle. I hope that the young, smart Democratic woman I mentioned is reading this, because we need her to challenge McCollum.

Braden Amabile, White Bear Lake

 

Opinion editor’s note: One measure of PAC (political action committee) influence of U.S. House members is a list of the top 50 recipients kept by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group, at its website opensecrets.org. McCollum is not among them.

VOTING RIGHTS FOR FELONS

Opposition is counterproductive

It would be easy to suspect a political motive for the Feb. 6 commentary “Earlier restoration of felons’ right to vote would be wrong,” even though the “tough on crime” model has been as discredited as the “war on drugs” model. I’m not sure who is still buying it, but it seems the authors are among the die-hards.

As a practical matter, prison models that focus on rehabilitation do far better at reintegrating offenders than prison models whose focus is punishment. (Look at the German system for an example of the rehab model.) Victims and society are far better served by successful reintegration than by bald retribution.

As a human matter, crime is a complicated thing, and offenders are far more than their crimes. Demonizing offenders by labeling them as their crimes is simplistic and inhumane authorship.

As a legal matter, a political system that removes voting rights from citizens, by definition, creates political prisoners. What person needs a civil voice more than one who has had their freedom and most other rights stripped away? I say that the legality of a Constitution that removes that right from any citizen is in question and should be challenged

John Cook, Burnsville

• • •

The article arguing against the restoration of voting rights for felons used terms and arguments that appeared chosen specifically to vilify people and inflame fear. Felons have been convicted of crimes, but they remain humans. After serving time in prison, most will be released. Let’s restore their voting rights immediately, rather than waiting until they have completed parole or probation, often a lengthy process. Let’s encourage them to reintegrate into the community by exercising their duty to vote as citizens. And let us remember the words of Bryan Stevenson, lawyer and social-justice advocate, who said, “Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”

Jane Bacon, White Bear Lake

• • •

Regarding “Felons’ right to vote back at Capitol” (front page, Feb. 5): I have read so many things about this subject over the last month, and now this article about Renee Brown Goodell, who was a felon herself and is fighting to have voting rights restored to felons who have completed their time in prison. I’d like to share a quote from a book by Alexander McCall Smith. His heroine, Precious Ramotswe, is kind and forgiving. She is quoted as saying: “If you punish somebody harshly, then you are simply inflicting more pain on the world. You are also punishing not only that person but his family and the people who love him. You are punishing yourself, really, because we are all brothers and sisters in this world, whether we know it or not; we are all citizens of the same Village.”

Karen Brenteson, Brooklyn Park

ICY CONDITIONS

Add to the penguin walk: Grips

Thank you to the Richfield gentleman who helped a senior up after she fell and advised her and all of us to “walk like a penguin” to avoid dangerous falls. I would add that you should consider buying some type of ice traction straps or cleats that you easily slip on shoes or boots during our really icy conditions. As a senior who has fallen, I feel so much more secure on my driveway and the sidewalk with traction grips on my boots. It’s certainly worth the $10 to $20 for peace of mind and your safety.

Kathleen Kunzman, Brooklyn Park