Letters to the Editor: December 1, 2020

Democracy or republic? Electoral College or not?

I agree with Patricia Knox’s letter on Nov. 24 that civics education needs to be mandatory. Just as important is thinking skills, which can be taught all across the curriculum through all grades. This includes the ability to process complex issues, such as whether the United States is a democracy or republic, or the merits of the Electoral College. Ms. Knox claims that we are not a democracy. A democracy is a government by the people either directly OR by their elected representatives. In a republic, laws are made by elected representatives and governed by a constitution protecting its citizens’ rights. So, we are both.

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The Electoral College was a cunning deal, with the slave-owning states gaining the upper hand. Counting their slaves as 3/5ths of a person, gave them more representatives and electors, which served them well. Now that we have Constitutional voting rights protections, does the Electoral College still serve to perpetuate racism, as it did at its onset?

One thing to consider: A vote in California, which has a very diverse population, carries less weight than a voter in Wyoming, a very white state, when translating the numbers into the Electoral College. A vote in states with large urban areas, which are racially diverse, have less weight than states that are largely rural, which are mostly white.

The times demand of us to be critical thinkers. Civics education must include the history and impact of this racism.

Diane Aoki

Kealakekua

Masks save lives

Stefanie Nolff is flat-out wrong (in her Nov. 30 letter to the editor) about the Scandinavian countries experience with COVID-19. Aside from the fact that culturally they share a much more cooperative national attitude when it comes to dealing with such challenges, they in fact have utilized lockdowns where needed, the difference being that as smaller countries they have been able to target specific zones, activities and groupings for restrictions. They also have unlocked the treasury far more generously than we have in order to minimize the economic pain their citizens endure.

As for Sweden individually, its initial goal of achieving herd immunity by avoiding all lockdowns except for the elderly was a dismal failure and led them to one of the highest infection rates in Europe; they have since adopted a far more pragmatic approach that does involve restrictions and targeted lockdowns. All three countries are regretting their permissive attitude toward face masks and are going in the direction of mandatory masking in public settings.

True, it’s no fun to wear masks but masks save lives. If some people cannot wear masks for valid medical reasons, they are responsible for staying out of public settings where they could infect others. If they insert themselves into situations in public where they are in close proximity to other people, they should be chastised. A medical waiver from face masks is not an invitation to spread disease to other people.

With all this publicity nationally about imaginary rights to gather in large unmasked groups, and the dramatically increasing numbers of infections, I’m very pessimistic. Aside from the immediate risk to me and my family as seniors, I suspect the anti-maskers will soon segue into the anti-vaxxers and prolong this pandemic unduly at the cost of countless lives. I fear it’s going to be a long dark period in this country.

Arne Werchick

Kailua-Kona

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Letters policy

Letters to the editor should be 300 words or less and will be edited for style and grammar. Longer viewpoint guest columns may not exceed 800 words. Submit online at www.westhawaiitoday.com/?p=118321 or via email to letters@westhawaiitoday.