Magazine article The Nation


Magazine article The Nation


Article excerpt


Austin, Tex.

* Dang! You guys missed the point again! If this electoral brouhaha proved anything, it is this: Electing the President of the United States is too important to entrust to the people. We can't read a simple ballot. We can't poke a sharp object through a piece of paper. Heck, half of us didn't even show up to vote. Clearly, we need to turn this over to professionals.

So, here's what we do. First, every four years, the Democratic and Republican parties each nominate a candidate for President by means known only to themselves and their... sponsors. This puts the nomination process squarely and publicly in the hands of professional kingmakers, who know what's best for us. We all agree that only the Democrats and the Republicans are competent to lead the nation, so we only need the two candidates.

Next, we commission two presidential opinion polls, one by each party. This gives the evaluation process to the professional opinion-makers, who know what's best for us. This is elegant for two reasons. First, there will be no more bumbling over confusing ballots or struggling with recalcitrant punches. Second, the sampling will represent 100 percent of the population! We need exactly two polls. That way, the two parties will keep each other honest, as they have for the past century, without making the process too confusing.

Surely, we will not elect a President by opinion poll, I hear you think. You are correct! The opinion polls will only be guidelines for the state legislatures, which will elect the representatives to the Electoral College. So we will have professional lawmakers, who know what is best for us, selecting our electors.

That brings us to the Electoral College. That hoary institution is in serious need of reform. Take, for example, the thousands of disfranchised felons. I propose that we count 60 percent of them for purposes of allocating electoral votes. I also propose 60 percent for legal aliens and, say, 40 percent for illegal aliens. But the important thing is a process that makes sense. We can work out the details later. Robert L. Blau


Pristina, Kosovo

* I had the pleasure and privilege of working with Amy Goodman as guest producer for a few days some months ago ["For Democracy Now!" Nov. 13]. I come from years of working with mainstream radio, and the Democracy Now! team and show felt like an oxygen tent. The attention paid to issues that never make it to the front pages, the use of critical and dissenting voices, and, more important, voices from the grassroots, make the program both compelling and indispensable. It was an exhilarating experience when Thomas Pickering's direct line was jammed by calls following DN!'s exposure of how FBI agents let a Peruvian torturer leave the United States scot-free. Similarly, the office was inundated by calls after DN! gave prominent coverage to another example of police brutality in New York. For me, this was further proof that issues like this are of interest to listeners and that the airwaves can be an effective means of mobilization. I had understood this was part of Pacifica's mandate and that DN!'s slogan, "The exception to the rulers," was based on a common Pacifica vision. The DN! show is what journalism should be about--for, with and of the people. It would be a shame to let the management get away with destroying it. Sputnik Kilambi Free Speech Radio News contributor


Washington, D.C.

* I appreciated William Greider's November 13 editorial, "If Politics Got Real...," challenging the rationale sustaining this country's laissez-faire attitude toward inflated prescription drug prices. As the author of legislation (The Affordable Prescription Drugs Act) that would codify the compulsory licensing approach mentioned in the piece, I am quite familiar with the "lower prices imperil medical advancement" threat used by the drug industry to protect its current pricing practices. …

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