I returned from my 10th Minnesota caucus on Tuesday, where I was a caucus secretary and was nominated to be the precinct chair. I considered staying home that night and not participating in the caucus because I find this entire process to be the antithesis of a democratic process. To wit:
At our caucus, in the precinct that consistently has the highest voter turnout in the state, 34 people attended. Of those 34, two were African-American, two were Latinx and 30 were white. Though our precinct is home to over 7,000 students, we had only a handful attend our caucus that night. Though our precinct has a sizable Somali population, we did not have a single Somali attend our caucus. Our precinct is home to Hmong and other Asian-Americans, and yet there was not a single person from that constituency at our caucus.
We know why our caucus participation is not representative of our electorate: because so many people do not have the time to devote two hours on a weeknight to this process, have child care issues or find the process daunting. And for those whose first language is not English, we know that this complex process is too overwhelming and complex and in no way is welcoming and inclusive.
Tonight, we elected 17 delegates (we were allowed 42 based on our high voter turnout in the last election, but we only had 17 volunteers of the 34 of us in attendance), and not only do we not know who they will support on our behalf at the district convention, we don’t even yet know who the candidates will be. We are holding a caucus before the deadline for candidates to file their intention to run!
Because we did not have enough attendees at the caucus, we did not have a contest for any of the delegate positions, and we know nothing about the delegates or how they will make decisions about the choices they will make at the convention.
What is democratic about this process? Nothing. It is time for our Democratic Party to become democratic. It is time for us to dump the caucus system entirely.
Brooke Magid Hart, Minneapolis
More candidates mean less support needed to win. For now.
I find it quite odd that we use a plurality system in the primaries, allowing a minority of voters to determine a front-runner candidate who will appeal to the majority for the general election.
What’s a plurality? It’s like the longest short straw. Simply divide 100 by the number of candidates and you have the threshold for a winner. So with five candidates, one only has to gain just over 20% of the vote to win.
Wouldn’t it be much smarter for us to use ranked-choice voting in state primaries so that a majority favors the winning candidate, and we put our most electable candidate forward?
In the future, let’s get the majority behind our candidates. Let’s get behind ranked-choice voting.
Jim Cousins, Edina
PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM
One of these is vastly more worthy
In 2015, President Barack Obama presented mathematician Katherine Johnson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2020, President Donald Trump presented Rush Limbaugh with the same medal. If “from the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step,” I hope the reverse is true, too.
Mark Brandt, Minneapolis
Don’t close Wirth House to visitors
I am writing about my concern that the historic Theodore Wirth House may be closed for public tours (“Parks superintendent will rent entire Wirth home,” Feb. 20). As a historian and consultant to help develop ideas for visitors, this means a lot to me. Wirth tours share his forward thinking and dedication to make the Minneapolis park system meet the needs of everyone, especially the children.
The Wirth House has had over 2,000 visitors in the last year and a half.
People learn Wirth’s dedication of more than 40 years. His genius created the finest park system of parks and parkways in America.
Visitors have included professional park planners and visitors from Minneapolis, out state, the East and West Coasts, Europe and China.
To me, the most important visitors are the schoolchildren of Minneapolis. They learn how he designed a park/playground to be within six blocks of every child living in Minneapolis. Wirth wanted everyone to use the parks, to walk on the grass and enjoy the lakes. He loved his house in the park so he could enjoy observing them, while he was designing a park for them.
Children can see his drafting tables with his drawings of parks. Then they have the experience of designing a park of their own. If they lose Wirth’s story, you take away this experience from the children of Minneapolis. They may dream of designing parks for future generations to enjoy, because they had the chance to be inspired by the story of Theodore Wirth.
Ruthann Clay, Richfield
Fellow Minnesotans, change your minds on driver’s license question
In response to Wednesday’s article detailing the Star Tribune/MPR News Minnesota poll (“Refugees have deep support in state,” Feb. 26) regarding the question of access to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants (41% support/51% oppose), I am dismayed that half of respondents accept the dire consequences of our present Minnesota laws.
Moms and dads cannot pick up their children from school or day care without ID. Bank accounts are not available without ID. Driving to and from work, without a driver’s license, is a risky task. If stopped by police for any reason, an individual can be charged with driving without a license, a misdemeanor crime in Minnesota, put in jail and later transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation proceedings.
The benefits of making driver’s licenses available to everyone, without regard to immigration status, are many. Minnesota highways would be safer, since testing is required before licenses are issued. All drivers are required to show proof of insurance, which would result in insurance savings for a broader pool of drivers. Businesses would be able to recruit from a larger segment of the workforce, since driving to work would no longer be a limiting factor.
Law enforcement in the state supports giving access to driver’s licenses to all immigrants. This will enable them to verify everyone’s identity, thus giving them greater ability to protect public safety. This would also increase trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement, which benefits us all.
This is a winning formula.
Mary Vanderford, Minneapolis
Christians won’t run from GOP
Regarding the Feb. 24 letter “Pry apart Christian support for him”: Let’s pry those Christians away from Trump! We can have them vote for a socialist/communist. You know how tolerant they are of religion!
Edward McHugh, East Bethel
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