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Gerrymandering rules

EDITOR: Where does it say elections have to be fair and representation equal? Nowhere in our laws is this stated explicitly. As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear two more cases concerning political gerrymandering, it is likely that the court will avoid a meaningful decision.

The court’s job is to settle issues based on law, and no law says state legislatures cannot gerrymander. We assume something underpins equality of representation. There isn’t anything — not until we create it. Constitutional change is needed.

Existing constitutional amendments don’t ensure equity in representation. They do guarantee the privilege of voting to individuals but not an equal share of representation.

As the 14th Amendment says, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens.” Other amendments prevent voting rights from restriction based on race, gender or age. But nothing prevents gerrymandering based on point of view.

Congress is our only effective avenue for constitutional change. As Paul Krugman pointed out, now is the time to prepare substantive changes (“Building the case for a ‘Green New Deal,’ ” Jan. 5). They may not be enacted now, but they might in 2021.

I encourage everyone to message their congressional representative concerning policies that need enactment and to consider including equity in representation.

RON TAYLOR

Santa Rosa

Understanding Trump

EDITOR: Regarding Michael George’s letter (“Trump bashing,” Tuesday), I can understand why people would be motivated by Donald Trump’s “shake things up” ethos. Yet, as for “draining the swamp,” it is obvious (at least to me) that, far from draining it, Trump filled it up with the most corrupt set of characters that I’ve seen in my lifetime (58 years). Anyone in Trump’s administration with any integrity has quit or been fired.

Think for yourself, people. Trump is happiest when folks are simply parroting back his own statements (“Lock her up”).

DAVID REITMAN

Santa Rosa

Corporate mischief

EDITOR: Despite record corporate profits, working Americans need help.

Wells Fargo became the poster child for corporate greed by creating false accounts, while PG&E lobbied to have ratepayers cover its losses.

Big Tobacco knew that nicotine was addictive and smoking caused cancer but lied to Congress. The Ford Pinto was “unsafe at any speed” because it could explode when rear-ended.

Exxon knew that fossil fuels cause climate change but hid the evidence, funded deniers and tried to lower mileage standards.

Three Mile Island, the Exxon Valdez, Love Canal and the Deepwater Horizon weren’t natural disasters.

Our for-profit health care costs twice as much as in other countries. We pay more for the same medicines, and Big Pharma flooded the market with opioids that are killing Americans.

Instead of investing, corporate America used its tax cuts to increase dividends and buy back stock.

After taxpayers bailed out General Motors, it decided to move production to Mexico and lay off 14,000 employees.

Tech giants and social media platforms sold our data and ignored threats to our political system and social fabric.

Based on this history, we need major reforms to rein in megacorporations and address income inequality, universal health care and climate change.

TONY WHITE

Santa Rosa

Secure borders and crime

EDITOR: I’m always astounded at liberal beliefs that securing one’s border and controlling who enters is an archaic notion.

Frank Baumgardner even made a comparison between crime in the U.S. and Mexico, using the example of a citizen being dragged from a car and beaten in San Francisco (“A bad joke?” Letters, Jan. 6).

With all due respect, travel down to the state of Sinaloa or perhaps to Acapulco and poll local residents about the fear of crime. Being dismembered alive for not joining the right gang would be on their list of fears. Is that true in California?

Also, one of the reasons I left my home state was to ensure that I don’t become a victim of crime like Baumgardner described. Here, my right to self-defense is honored and isn’t discouraged by highly paid police unions that promise to catch the suspect sometime down the road. Probably while I’m still in the hospital.

KEN GOOD

Gig Harbor, Washington

A refreshing outlook

EDITOR: What a pleasant surprise when I read Nicholas Kristof’s Thursday column (“Why 2018 was the best year in human history”). I was fully prepared to start a mental debate, but when I read this refreshing column, my day started out positive and smiling.

Kristof was speaking mainly of global poverty and improvement all over the world, with infant mortality dropping dramatically.

I was on the way to my oncologist, praying for a good report. And, yes, I got one and am really smiling now. On the way home, I was thinking about why 2018 was a good year for medical improvements and research. If my cancer had been a few years earlier, the research may not have been done with the treatment available now, and I would not be writing this today.

Thanks to Kristof for reminding us to look at the whole picture. Challenges, yes we have them, but let’s work together with enthusiasm and belief that we can make a difference. Because one day, that research, that improvement, that technology may be lifesaving to you and your loved ones.

MARCIA WEEKS

Mendocino

You can send a letter to the editor at letters@pressdemocrat.com

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