U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York won’t get my vote in any Democratic presidential primary election (“Gillibrand says she is running in 2020,” Jan. 16). More than anyone else, she is responsible for the abrupt resignation of Sen. Al Franken following several allegations of inappropriate conduct toward women several years ago. Franken’s earlier conduct, when he was a comedian, even if proven, was minuscule, apologized for, and he was prepared to go before the Senate Ethics Committee for a fair hearing. The fusillade led by Gillibrand struck him hard, and he resigned. I submit that he would never have been forced to resign after a Senate hearing. His long record of USO volunteering, progressive stances and civic involvement were disregarded by Gillibrand.
Franken had literally become a “Giant of the Senate,” the title of his latest book, during his short tenure, and that trait had displayed itself in several areas, not the least of which was as a member of the Judiciary Committee.
There is no question that one is responsible for one’s conduct, and that the #MeToo movement has opened our eyes to abuses that have been overlooked for decades. You can’t outrun your past. Which is why, as I look over Gillibrand’s past, I wonder how she rationalizes her legal work defending Philip Morris in the 1990s when the damage of nicotine was first being brought to public attention, or her then-100 percent approval rating from the National Rifle Association, or her outspoken opposition to amnesty for undocumented immigrants, or her strenuous opposition to legalizing same-sex marriage. I’m sure she says that she has grown since then. She’s had the chance that she denied Franken, to explain away her shortcomings on those important social issues.
In her words, as she castigated Franken, “Sometimes you just have to do what’s right — even if it’s painful.” Exposing hypocrisy is painful, but attacking a peer as she did is a two-edged sword. She will not get my vote, even if it’s painful.
Alan Miller, Eagan
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After Gillibrand’s announcement Tuesday that she will seek the presidency, many former constituents of Al Franken have expressed their lingering anger toward her on his behalf. This warrants a few reminders:
• Franken resigned from the Senate of his own accord, without an investigation, at the request of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
• Gillibrand was joined by a swath of other progressive leaders in calling for Franken’s resignation. The group includes other announced and likely presidential candidates, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and even Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
• Gillibrand has been consistent in her efforts to root out sexual harassment in the workplace, whether that’s her support for the #MeToo movement, introduction of legislation supporting military service members who have been sexually harassed, or even remarks that, in retrospect, Bill Clinton (a hero of her own party) should have resigned in the wake of his own indiscretions. To suggest that her demand that Franken be held accountable for his actions was an isolated or opportunistic move is to ignore her record.
Gillibrand may or may not be the right candidate to lead the Democratic Party in 2020. Either way, Minnesotan progressives owe her an open mind and opportunity to articulate her vision for our country without Franken’s specter lingering over her.
Sean Lynch, Minneapolis
IMMIGRATION AND SECURITY
Two questions for those who agree with the case for a border wall
It appears that there are many people who agree with President Donald Trump’s border wall but don’t live anywhere near a border. I would like to ask these people two questions: Would you be willing to have your own property seized for this project via eminent domain, or does your support depend only on the taking of other people’s homes? Secondly, would you have agreed with President Barack Obama if he wanted to take your property for one of his proposed projects?
Mary Fraser, Eagan
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Peter Drucker (1909-2005), is well known for his many books and insightful thoughts on effective management. One of his principles was to make decisions at the right management level, where those involved have the best information and are responsible to implement a task. According to this, those responsible for border security should decide how best to spend the money, not politicians who know very little about the problem or its solution, talk in generalities and have other objectives.
Richard Petschauer, Edina
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I’m afraid the border-wall debacle may backfire on the Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s stand against building the wall has become a temper tantrum much like those we have seen from President Trump.
If this continues, many people, including me, are going to become disenchanted with the Democrats who will be looking for votes in 2020. Give the man the wall and get the 800,000 people back to work!
Marcia Patterson, Minnetonka
An issue for the altruistic: Total equality, liberty are incompatible
The issue of inequality seems to be forever with us. Eliminating income and wealth inequality is on the agenda of every Democrat political platform. How can one argue with an altruistic goal of prosperity for all? That’s easy because we’re not arguing about prosperity, we’re arguing about economic equality, which usually has nothing to do with prosperity.
I won’t attempt to argue with these altruistic folks as long as they acknowledge a concept that many of us have learned somewhat painfully. That concept is that the more economic equality we achieve, the more liberty we have likely forfeited. Total equality and liberty are not compatible.
We are wasting our energy if we commit ourselves to equal economic outcomes or equal wealth. What is achievable is something worthy of our maximum commitment. That is the ideal of equal opportunity, and true equality under the law. That’s what our founders set as our worthy goal.
Steve Bakke, Edina
The future beckons, and Asia, not the U.S., answers the call
Asia’s rise at the speed of 5G wireless telecommunications technology, if you will, is a window into who will be the great power of the 21st century (“How the U.S. continues to fall behind as the world wires up,” Business, Jan. 16). While leadership of the 19th- and 20th-century powers, America and Britain, strives to divide with trade and immigration walls, wasting millions of dollars and human productivity on Brexit, tariffs and a government shutdown, China for one, is “planning to cover 80 percent of its residences and business with 5G connectivity by 2025,” along with developing the Belt and Road Initiative, expanding international trade with Europe, Asia and Africa.
It won’t be the fictitious hordes at the border that will be America’s demise; it will be our population’s dial-up global ignorance.
Penny Van Kampen, Edina