Flunking College

So Jack Lessenberry thinks that the 18th century slaveholding elitists who fashioned the constitutional provisions for the Electoral College should be praised for their handiwork ("Electoral College cheer," MT, Nov. 15-21)! In the face of democratic movements throughout the 20th century that struggled for "one person, one vote," Lessenberry tries to justify an undemocratic 18th century anachronism like the Electoral College on the basis of arcane speculations about whether presidential candidates would ever visit small states or go outside major media markets.

Guess what? Gore and Bush spent lavishly in major media markets and visited only a third of the states in this past election.

Electoral reforms seem to cry out for recognition as a consequence of this election. First of all, establishing instant runoff voting similar to that in operation in Ireland and Australia would allow voters to rank candidates in order of preference. This would guarantee that those voting for third-party candidates could vote their conscience and then indicate a second strategic choice. Such an instant runoff would have probably given Gore more than 50 percent of the vote after taking into account the second-place votes.

However, even more equitable is to move beyond a winner-take-all political system to one where proportional representation would give third parties, even those with as little as 5 percent of the vote, a voice. Most democracies around the world have such a proportional system and they manage as a consequence to engage a much greater percentage of their citizens in the elections.

Finally, the fact that still only a little more than 50 percent of the populace voted suggests that many still distrust the whole racket. Where people had a chance to directly decide issues through referenda, such as privatizing voucher schemes or continuing the war on drugs, they voted in favor of sane and progressive public policy - something the vast majority of politicians, including Bush and Gore, and incapable of doing. So, let Washington stay gridlocked and let the people get on with making necessary democratic changes all down the line. —Fran Shor, [email protected], Royal Oak

Jack Lessenberry replies: Nice idea, Ms. Shor. OK if I don't hold my breath till Congress passes and 38 states ratify your amendment?


A recent article on photographer Ed Roberson ("See it like it was," MT, Nov. 15-21) included a picture of a group identified as a ’50s precursor to the Temptations. William Crawford, who called after he saw himself in the picture, said the group was known as the Elgins and that the picture was taken circa 1960.

Additionally, due to an editing error, Richard Walls’ review of Jean Vigo’s timeless masterpiece (Big Screen, MT, Nov. 22-28) L’Atalante appeared without the fifth of the five stars it rated.

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