Advice for Dems’ selection process

It’s less than 12 months until our first presidential primaries and caucuses. About three dozen hapless Democrats are already competing in a kind of “Gong Show” for the privilege of getting trounced by President Trump in 2020. Many have either announced their candidacy or have created “exploratory committees.”

Here’s where I can help. Out of the goodness of my heart I’d like to propose a very simple point system to help the Democratic Party zealots focus on those “qualities” they consider most important in their nominee.

All candidates begin with zero points.

If the candidate is male, deduct 10 points for his “toxic masculinity.” If female, add 20 points. If LGBTQ, add 30 points.

If white, deduct 25 points for their obvious “white privilege.” If black, Latino, Hispanic, Native-American, fake Native-American or biracial, add 25 points.

If nonreligious, or if they profess any religion other than Christianity, add 30 points.

If any candidate has multiple last names, a hyphenated last name or has made a name change for political purposes (Loretta Sanchez, Barack Obama, Beto O’Rourke, etc.), add 25 points.

If a career politician or from academia, add 50 points. If a former defense lawyer or a disbarred lawyer, add 75 points.

If they profess to be pro-life, deduct 1,000 points. If pro-choice but oppose abortion after the first trimester, deduct 50 points. If they support partial-birth abortion or infanticide, add 100 points.

If a self-avowed socialist, or just a run-of-the-mill communist, add 100 points.

Well, I could go on and on, but I guess you can see how effective this simplified selection process can be. Using this unique and practical point system, I could already announce their probable presidential nominee. But that would spoil all the fun.

David Hanvelt

Eau Claire

Trump ill-advised on issue of free speech

Please join me in opposing President Trump’s vow to sign an executive order enforcing free speech on U.S. institutions of higher education by stripping federal funding from any university deemed to have failed to protect free speech.

We should all agree public universities should be bastions of free speech — I wrote “Campus Hate Speech on Trial” in 1998 to defend this fundamental principle — but the proposed executive order will hurt rather than help free speech.

First, it will make the federal government, with all its divisive and polarized politics, the judge, jury and executioner of campus free speech. Do we want to put free speech in the hands of politicians more interested in getting re-elected than enforcing free speech principles? Read Nat Hentoff’s excellent 1992 book, “Free Speech for Me and Not for Thee,” to see what a mess Washington will make of free speech.

Second, it will create yet another bureaucracy, a bureaucracy whose decisions will change according to who is in power and the policies the in-group happens to support at the time. Do we need more bureaucracy, a “speech czar,” Washington insiders telling us what we can and can’t say? This is recipe for disaster.

Congress held hearings on this issue in 2017 and 2018, and wisely declined to pass federal legislation. Nongovernmental organizations that promote and protect free speech on the basis of nonpartisan principle rather than partisan politics are issuing statements against the order.

The UW System Board of Regents has already taken steps to enforce free speech on campus by passing policy document 4-21 in October 2017. We don’t need an executive order that will threaten rather than benefit campus free speech.

Tim Shiell

UW-Stout faculty member