Letters to the editor: June 10, 2024

On logging, advocacy and the American kakistocracy


Democracy in action

Ms. Ochs’ challenging trip to Washington shows how a determined advocate can create more understanding with members of Congress, hopefully leading to action (“Ms. Ochs goes to Washington,” May 28). That is democracy in action. 

Any of us can make this trip to the nation’s capital to meet and speak with our members of Congress to advocate for things that make a difference. Whether it is advocating to expand and protect the SNAP program, ensuring a bold pledge to fund Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance — improving access to vaccines for children in the poorest countries — or encouraging the Senate to pass the bipartisan Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act helping millions of families that are struggling in poverty, it matters. 

Ms. Ochs’ inspiration reminds us we all have the privileges and responsibilities of living in a democracy.

— Willie Dickerson, Snohomish, Washington

May the worst candidate win

The United States would be better off eliminating presidential elections entirely, replacing them with a parliamentary system. A unicameral Congress elected by hybrid proportional representation could select a chief executive with strictly limited authority, who can be fired at any time on a simple vote of no confidence. 

This idea might seem too radical for some people who prefer to have a public vote for the chief executive. U.S. presidential elections play a key role in perpetuating American kakistocracy — government by the worst or least principled people. Republican voters enthusiastically embrace the worst possible candidates. Democratic voters will often admit that their candidates suck, but at least they don’t suck as badly as Republicans. Many voters claim they are voting against Republicans, not voting for Democrats.

American politics is like a stagnant pond: Scum rises to the top. I propose a modest reform to the process we use for selecting the worst person in the United States.

We can implement a system of disapproval voting. Each voter could vote against as many presidential candidates as they dislike. Just say no! Over and over again.

Noam Chomsky in 1990 pointed out that all modern-era presidents of the United States have committed war crimes that would earn them the death penalty if they were tried under the standards of the Nuremberg Tribunals. Of course, civilized societies have abolished capital punishment as a barbaric relic of the Dark Ages: The appropriate sentence for the crime of presidenting should be life imprisonment.

Accordingly, I propose that Alcatraz Island be repurposed as a permanent residence for all living past and present U.S. presidents. Secret Service agents would be stationed on the island to protect people from them and ensure that no presidents escape from prison. The Vice President, fitted with an ankle monitor and carefully guarded by a Secret Service detail, might serve a ceremonial role, making public appearances at used car lot grand openings and attending funerals for children killed by U.S. drone strikes.

The White House could still be used to fulfill its primary function as a manure storage facility.

— Gary Swing, Unity Party candidate for Colorado State Senate, District 18

I want to express my concerns about the plan of logging and tree trimming in the Pike-San Isabel National Forest in Jefferson and Douglas Counties (“Forest under threat,” Letters to the editor, April 29). This plan will not help our wildfire fuel reduction. It will remove our much needed trees from the forest and increase openings in our canopies, allowing sunlight to dry out forest floors.

I recently toured an area that was logged two years ago for fire mitigation. The cut-down trees were left in stacks of logs up to 10 feet high and 30 feet or more wide. The only vegetation growing were invasive weeds.

I also viewed an area nearby logged 20 years ago. Due to dry wood mulch left, there was limited vegetation growing, which is necessary food source for our wildlife.

Instead of spending taxpayer dollars logging forests, measures such as non-flammable roofs and maintaining large spaces around structures should be used to save properties. Grants should be made for this, not taking the trees, drying out the forest, reducing water sources and forcing wildlife out.

— Rick Hunckler, Parker


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