From my August 22, 2018 letter to Senator Grassley.
It’s been almost two years since I wrote you about Trump’s statement on the “Access Hollywood” tape. As he was about to meet my niece Arianne Zucker he told Billy Bush, “When you’re a star they’ll let you do it. You can do anything.” I asked you, “Is it true; will you let him do anything?” It’s time for you to give us an answer….
We tend to think of polarization and divisiveness as symptoms of the current administration in the U.S. and maybe they will just disappear with future elections; well that’s not going to happen. This has been trending for over forty years and getting rid of Trump will not change this. Putin’s efforts to undermine the institutions of democracies around the world exploits this vulnerability, but this only highlights how bad it can get. With or without Putin’s help polarization will bring an end to many democratic regimes. Continue reading
As published in Grinnell Herald Register on July 9, 2018
The Washington Post recently published an article entitled Give ranked choice voting a shot. Believe me if we do we’ll never go back. Ranked choice voting (RCV) is better by orders of magnitude. The idea of ranking your choices in order of preference is really not that hard for voters to understand.
As a matter of clarification RCV is not the same thing as instant run-off voting (IRV) as implied in the article. RCV is simply the format of the ballot allowing us to rank our choices whereas IRV is the algorithm most commonly used for sorting out the winner. Continue reading
What are we talking here, “treason” and “jaywalking?” Or did our founding fathers have something different in mind? Well, Benjamin Franklin asserted that the power of impeachment and removal was necessary for those times when the Executive “rendered himself obnoxious.” Does that remind us of anyone we know? For most of us, we see these words and think that some kind of crime must be alleged before an impeachment trial can begin. Sure, we call it a trial, but Congress is not a court of law. It is a trial in the sense that there are facts and circumstances to be weighed, whether we are weighing criminality or obnoxiousness. Continue reading
A call to action
My recent blog article created a stir when I said,
“Do you or your group want to take out incumbents who haven’t supported responsible gun control legislation? Register with their party and try to take them out in the primary first.”
Just to be clear this is not about dirty tricks; it’s about using your vote where it will do the most good. Plurality voting as used in most primary elections gives us ample opportunity to waste our votes. If voting for your favorite candidate means wasting your vote on a certain looser, you may cast your vote instead for the lesser of evils that stand a chance of winning. If your vote is not needed because your choice is sure to win anyway, you may not waste your time voting at all; you may have even done this in the last election. There are voting methods that resolve these dilemmas on a simple ballot, but we have to make the most of the system we have. Continue reading
As published in the Grinnell Herald-Register on February 19, 2018
As we mourn the deaths of another 17 young people with their whole lives ahead of them, I have to ask what’s actually changed since February 11, 2013 when the Grinnell Herald-Register published my first article on the subject. Well in the five years since Sandy Hook some of the states hardest hit like Connecticut and California have enacted progressive gun legislation but on the whole legislation in the US has only increased the risk to American citizens. Iowa is a good example of a state where reckless legislation is likely to make matters worse while we remain convinced that what happened in Parkland (recently named the safest city in Florida) can’t happen here. The NRA has since become (whether wittingly or unwittingly) entangled in a Russian plot to create divisiveness in our country. Continue reading