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Forum, Jan. 31: The For the People Act would help

Published: 1/30/2021 10:00:05 PM
Modified: 1/30/2021 10:00:03 PM
The For the People Act would help

Two GOP walls are now inactive: Donald Trump’s stupid and wasteful border wall, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s stone wall against H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which was introduced as the first bill in the 116th Congress. It passed the House in 2019, but McConnell immediately said it’s “not going to go anywhere in the Senate,” and it died on his desk.

But 2021 is a new time for “we the people,” and a huge setback for the reactionary GOP.

H.R. 1 (and the Senate version, S. 1) are now before the 117th Congress, and McConnell — now the Senate minority leader — cannot simply block it.

The For the People Act (summarized at brennancenter.org/our-work/policy-solutions/for-the-people-act), would help strengthen campaign finance reform and government ethics — for four years now an oxymoron — and expand and improve voting rights.

It features these steps to improve democracy to benefit us all: Require presidential and vice presidential candidates to show tax returns; put stricter limitations on foreign lobbying and revolving doors; disclose “dark money” donors; improve bipartisanship in the Federal Election Commission; overturn Citizens United; establish public financing for campaigns, with a 6-1 match for small donations; require elected officials to pay harassment settlements out of their own pockets; establish an ethics code for the Supreme Court; create a national voter registration program; designate Election Day as a national holiday; reduce or eliminate partisan gerrymandering; limit efforts to purge voter lists — a darn good set of improvements, to put the swamp behind us. All are anathema to the GOP, and all support values that are crucial to reducing the many enormous inequities in our country.

I hope this bill gets the support it deserves, in both the House and the Senate, in the 117th Congress.

MICHAEL WHITMAN

Lyme

Government reflects our morality

It goes without saying that we are living through stressful and depressing times. But things in this world have been worse. We humans have been fighting and slaughtering each other for millennia. Sadly, dictatorships, wars and injustice are still occurring around the world. Could things get worse and decay politically and socially in our country? Heaven forfend.

But let’s embrace a modicum of optimism. We will see this pandemic through and, it is hoped, our leaders will reach a period of cooperation and comity. Many say that all politicians are corrupt and their morality is wanting. Not so. Unfortunately, some are greedy and self-serving. They deserve our disfavor and should be impeached.

Let’s remember, the government can’t manufacture morality. Morality starts from the bottom and moves up. A democratic government reflects the morality of its citizens. We are the government.

BOB CATTABRIGA

West Lebanon

It’s about neurology, not ideology

I recently penned an op-ed column about my flirtation with extremism (“How I became an extremist” Jan. 3). In the piece I argued that my dalliances with extremism were life-saving for me; they rebalanced a very imbalanced neurology, pouring (among other things) dopamine, endorphins and noradrenaline on a dysregulated neurological fire that desperately needed fuel.

When we look at today’s expressions of extreme ideologies — both right and left — it is so important that we look to physiology and not simply get drawn into the interpretive realms of values and beliefs. For those of you (me, too) on the left, please understand that the right-wing conspiracists we are so quick to dismiss are 100% convinced of their truths. They have to be. This is the path to neurophysiological salvation.

Also understand that the pendulum away from extremism will not gain momentum until other factors bring people into neurological balance: food security, job security, a future that feels safe, close physical contact with other human beings, etc.

This moment in history is not about ideology. That is a neurological red herring. Until we recognize this reality and stop excoriating the “other side” (because our neurology demands dogmatic adherence to our tribes’ narratives in order to feel OK), the march toward civil strife and conflict will not abate. This is truly a moment during which the maxim “love thy neighbor as thyself” becomes imperative.

I commit myself to saying hello to everyone, to holding everyone in my heart as precious and vulnerable and so very lost. It’s the only way we get through this truly tragic moment in time.

DAN WEINTRAUB

Quechee

National Guard’s work impressive at Lebanon vaccination event

We were so impressed by the competence, professionalism and courtesy of National Guard members as they so capably handled traffic and the large number of people vaccinated at the armory in Lebanon on Jan. 23.

Many thanks to them. They made us proud.

LOIS and LARRY WHITE

Grantham

A beacon of hopeful light

A beautiful conical beacon of light glows nightly on the Dartmouth Green in Hanover. It lifts my spirits in this dark pandemic winter. Thank you to the college’s Facilities Operations and Management team, which switched out the colorful holiday tree lights for the hopeful white ones.

The glorious tree, downy new snow and Baker Library tower create a calming and memorable scene. Consider stopping by the tree on a snowy evening to watch the green fill up with snow.

WILLIAM W. YOUNG

Hanover




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