To the editor: Columnist Michael Hiltzik says the United States isn’t as polarized as most pundits allege. So, why is the Senate divided 50-50, so that a single senator can hold up President Biden’s agenda? Why do we have a Supreme Court in which two-thirds of the justices were appointed by Republican presidents?
It’s the Constitution. Almost every part of it was badly done.
The Constitution gives outsized power to small states in the electoral college and the Senate. California, with almost 40 million residents, has two senators; so does Wyoming, population not quite 600,000. This is ridiculous.
Another problem with the Constitution is the Supreme Court. Between lifetime membership and the faulty confirmation process, we end up with a court that represents exactly the opposite of what the people want.
Finally, we have the 1st Amendment and the 2nd Amendment. The framers could not have imagined a world where anyone’s thoughts could be broadcast in an instant. Germany has laws banning certain kinds of hate speech, as does Britain, and both countries seem to stumble along just fine. In America, spewing racist, misogynistic, blatantly dishonest claptrap is considered a right.
As for the 2nd Amendment, gun rights proponents ignore the part about the “well-regulated militia,” and the Supreme Court has abetted this willful ignorance.
It may be time for a constitutional convention.
David Weber, Hollywood
To the editor: Hiltzik is right about Americans not being polarized on abortion, gun laws and vaccinations. But he omits the consensus on arguably the most determinative issue of all: the climate crisis.
A Pew Research Center study from June 2020 found that two-thirds of Americans think the federal government should do more about climate change. Eighty percent want “tougher restrictions on power plant carbon emissions.” Seventy-three percent favor “taxing corporations based on their carbon emissions.” Seventy-nine percent believe the “U.S. should prioritize developing alternative energy sources.”
Add to these facts the finding that “majorities of both Democrats and Republicans prioritize alternate energy over fossil fuel sources.”
So Hiltzik is even more right than his column indicates.
Ginger Osborne, Laguna Beach
To the editor: The usually perspicacious Michael Hiltzik overlooks one crucial factor in his column downplaying polarization.
The most destructive totalitarian dictatorships of the 20th century — the Russian Bolsheviks, the Italian Fascists and the German Nazis — all came to power with no more than 37% of the vote.
The Bolsheviks mustered only 23% of the vote in the election for the Russian Constituent Assembly of 1917. Only 35 Fascist deputies were elected to a more than 300-member parliament in 1921, the last free election in Italy until 1946. The Nazis garnered only 37% of the vote in 1932 in the last free election in Germany until after the war.
The U.S. now has about that percentage of angry and united citizens. This is not a hopeful sign.
John Madden, San Clemente
To the editor: Much as I would like to believe Hiltzik’s assertions that the U.S. is not a polarized nation, I can’t help but note that in the ultimate “poll” of American citizens, the 2020 presidential election, a mere 53% of the electorate chose not to retain the incumbent.
R.C. Price, San Clemente
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