- The Washington Times - Friday, December 26, 2003

Campaign finance reform and judicial review

I have been stewing slowly over the nonsensical ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on the topic of campaign-finance reform legislation and whether it is constitutional (“Indifference to liberty,” Commentary, Tuesday).

Once again, a swing vote by an aged justice who ought to know better — Sandra Day O’Connor — has infringed upon the rights of the people to gather together in associations that make it more effective for their voices to be heard. It is as simple as that, and the ruling is itself a violation of the First Amendment.

Political pressure from all sides should be put upon Congress and our president to repeal this horrible infringementontheaverage American’s right to free speech. A fitting response to this situation would be to write to the editor of your regular daily newspaper as much as possible during the last 60 days of the presidential campaign, specifically addressing why you support your candidate and voicing concerns about the constitutionality of the campaign-finance law. It is only in vocal protest that we can make the political system correct itself, because the Supreme Court appears to have lost its collective mind.

NORMAN HENDRICKSON

Bowie Md.

William Goldcamp needs to suggest taking the action one step further (“Indifference to liberty,” Commentary, Tuesday).

There should be a constitutional check and balance on judicial review. It is an implied responsibility with no solid basis under the Constitution; therefore, we need a constitutional amendment to solidify it and put in place the proper checks and balances.

All interpretations of the Constitution should be reviewed by the legislative branch and approved by the executive branch. Without it, the judicial branch of the government is free to make a judgment on anything and everything without reference to the Constitution, logic and morals.

Without those checks and balances, our votes are neutralized, the republic paradigm fails, and we are destined to follow the Greeks and Romans into the abyss of failed historical attempts at democracy.

LARRY STONE

Peyton, Colo.

Comparing Romania, Iraq

Regarding the column “Brotherhood of deposed dictators” (Commentary, Tuesday): It is true that Romanians caught and punished their dictator. However, had the Americans decided to intervene militarily in Romania at that time, Romanians would have welcomed their intervention and their stay in Romania.

If for Romanians there is a historical explanation for their affection toward the United States, for the Iraqis, this history is just commencing. During communism, Romanians were told to defend themselves from the evil of American imperialism, but most Romanians waited impatiently for the system to be defeated. We all longed for freedom and individual prosperity. So do the Iraqis.

Romania was an easy-to-manage risk on the world map, as Romanians were interested in affirming their European identity. The nation’s rebuilding process was left in the hands of Romanians and European Union bureaucrats. Without a regional political structure to which to aspire, Iraq will need U.S. support over a number of years. Iraq not only needs to be rebuilt, but also will have to become a model for other despotic Arab states in the region.

It took Romania 13 years to stabilize its democracy without a U.S.-sponsored reconstruction program. An accelerated plan to rebuild Iraq by the United States and its allies should help reduce an excruciatingly long and painful transition to a democratic system and market economy.

FLORIN RAPAN

Aurora, Ontario

First or second place?

Congratulations to Florida International University in Miami for its part in helping foreign-educated physicians become nurses in the United States. I must, however, set the record straight regarding the contention by the nursing school director in the Dec. 19 story “Foreign doctors find U.S. niche” (Culture) that this program is the “first of its kind.” For a number of years, foreign-educated physicians have turned to Excelsior College, the largest accredited nursing school in the country, to earn associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in nursing. To date, Excelsior has graduated 171 foreign physicians from our associate’s degree nursing program and two from our bachelor of science nursing program.

Excelsior’s nursing programs are designed specifically to serve individuals with significant background or experience in clinically oriented health care disciplines.

In addition to helping foreign physicians obtain the degrees they need to work as nurses in the United States, our innovative program helps licensed practical nurses and licensed vocational nurses, paramedics, military corpsmen and individuals such as respiratory therapists, chiropractors, physician assistants and others who hold degrees in health fields obtain the degrees they need to become registered nurses.

Excelsior College’s School of Nursing associate’s degree program is the only accredited RN pre-licensure program in the nation that can be completed at a distance. I am proud to say that our nontraditional program, which focuses on what students know rather than where or how they learned it, is having a greater overall impact on the nursing shortage than any other individual nursing school program in the country. Since its inception in the early 1970s, Excelsior’s School of Nursing programs have graduated more than 25,000 nurses.

M. BRIDGET NETTLETON

Dean

School of Nursing

Excelsior College

Albany, N.Y.

Editing the electoral process

The Washington Times Commentary pages on Monday had a wonderful one-two combination of innovative thinking about the electoral process. Bruce Bartlett analyzed the difficulties facing third parties in our politics (“Third party fantasies”) and proposed that more states adopt New York’s system, which allows a candidate to receive the nomination of more than one party. Jonah Goldberg reviewed the political mess of legislative redistricting (“Redistricting repair”) and suggested that Congress return to the once-regular practice of increasing the size of the House of Representatives as our population grows — perhaps even with one dramatic leap of tripling or quadrupling the current 435 seats.

I could take issue with those suggestions or at least propose complementary reforms such as instant-runoff voting for presidential elections and non-winner-take-all, full-representation voting methods for legislative races. The key point, though, is that it’s time to put creative thinking about elections on the table. One element of Howard Dean’s platform that has the potential to draw cross-partisan support is the formation of a national commission to strengthen American democracy. Staffed by some of our best leaders and with enough resources to collect testimony from around the county, such a commission could spark the high-profile debate we need about ways to make elections work better for our country and its citizens.

ROB RICHIE

Executive director

Center for Voting & Democracy

Takoma Park


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