A recent letter to the editor proposed adopting an instant runoff system for future gubernatorial elections (“‘Instant runoff’ right for governor’s race,” Jan. 18).

While I applaud the authors’ civic engagement, I can’t help but guess their desire to apply this system only to the governor’s race is a result of Gov. LePage’s 2010 victory with 38 percent of the vote.

If their system is so wonderfully democratic, why not advocate instituting it for all state elections? Indeed, the instant runoff is known to eliminate the spoiler effect that third parties in a plurality system can cause.

The authors’ solution is also misplaced. If one wants candidates who are more closely aligned with the preferences of the majority, we must change the way we pick them.

The authors correctly noted that more Maine voters are independent than enrolled in a party. But the state’s primary system picks general election candidates based on the partisan preferences of very, very few.

Further, the only viable independent candidates in recent memory (Angus King and Eliot Cutler) not only had the ability to self-finance, but also had established state organizations and prominent national connections.

If the goal is truly to have elected officials who reflect the preferences of the majority, Maine should implement a nonpartisan blanket primary, or “top-two” system.

The only way to ensure an elected candidate has the support of a majority of voters is by limiting the number of candidates to two and then letting the good people of Maine decide. A top-two system does exactly that: The top two primary vote getters advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation.

While an instant runoff also eventually limits the candidates to two, the top-two system is superior because it eliminates the incentives for strategic voting, inherent in any ranking system.

Nathaniel F. Gray

Cape Elizabeth and Washington, D.C.

Gov. LePage, Republicans make life worse for needy

Russell Warnberg’s letter to the editor Jan. 13 (“‘Diatribe’ offers misleading take on Republican ideas“) never answers Tom Walton’s question: “Don’t Republican voters enjoy entitlements, too?”

Mr. Warnberg believes that workers on long-term unemployment have no dignity and desire permanent dependency. He states: “To say that Republicans only care for the rich is so nonsensical that it defies logic.”

Republican legislation from Maine’s 125th Legislature, signed into law by Gov. LePage, fails to support Mr. Warnberg’s position and negatively impacts Maine’s citizens and fiscal future. Concern for Maine citizens was not the intent of the following Republican legislation:

L.D. 849: Reduces state revenues with an eventual top income tax rate of 4 percent, cuts state income tax revenues in half, benefits only Maine’s wealthiest 1 percent and isn’t funded.

L.D. 1746: Makes drastic cuts in services to working families, elderly and children while reducing access to medicine and medical care for 5,000-plus seniors and those with disabilities. Many of Maine’s most vulnerable have already lost benefits because of that legislation, and many more are about to.

L.D. 1913: Severely restricts benefits to Maine workers injured or permanently disabled on the job. Workers’ comp premiums have dropped nearly 60 percent, so Republicans now allow insurance companies like MEMIC to guarantee profits through rate increases at taxpayer and worker expense.

L.D. 1725: During the worst recession in eight decades, this bill weakened the unemployment system by penalizing laid-off workers.

Your property taxes will skyrocket if LePage’s revenue-sharing plan miraculously passes, and LePage now foolishly suggests that we pay Maine’s $500 million debt to hospitals with new debt.

Reducing corporate regulation and taxes on the wealthy will solve nothing. Growing Maine’s revenue base by expanding the middle class and supporting Maine’s work force will. So don’t expect Republican support.

Bruce K. Hixon

Industrial Union of Marine

and Shipbuilding Workers of America/International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, Local S6 (retired)

Bowdoin

Musial’s death brings back memories of special outing

Back in the mid-’50s, my aunt took me to a baseball game at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. I was 5, maybe 6 years old.

She wasn’t a real “aunt” — she was my mom’s best friend in high school. But Aunt Jean and Uncle Jerry loom large in my childhood memories. They’d stop at the White Castle hamburger stand in Elizabeth, N.J., to buy a sack of hamburgers. White Castle’s slogan was, indeed, “buy ’em by the sack.”

They’d assign me to hold that warm hamburger bag during the game. It kept me from freezing to death.

The Dodgers were playing the Cardinals. Uncle Jerry was from St. Louis. He called them “the Cards.” I recall an unforgettable moment like it was yesterday:

I’d nodded off, but was awakened by a rustle from the crowd, with my aunt clutching my shoulder. “Look!” she said.

A batter was planting his spikes, tapping his bat to measure his stance and took a few practice swings. “I want you to be able someday to say that you saw that man play baseball.”

I don’t recall whether the batter walked, struck out or hit a grand slam. But Stan “The Man” Musial died last weekend at 92 — in New Jersey. And today, I’m able to say I saw him play baseball. (Jackie Robinson played that night, too.)

Toward those who the Baseball Hall of Fame passed on — no comment. Toward that disgraceful cyclist’s pathetic confession to Oprah, or that Notre Dame player’s asinine “girlfriend” hoax — again, no comment. Not a single word.

I’m just grateful that I had a special aunt and uncle who loved me enough to take me to see Stan Musial and Jackie Robinson play baseball.

Buddy Doyle

Gardiner

On human rights, Obama’s words belie his actions

I listened with interest in the president’s words in his inaugural speech about the importance of respecting the rule of law and human rights.

Is he not the president who signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which states that any American can be arrested without charge, jailed and incarcerated for an indefinite amount of time, all without benefit of counsel or trial? How does that work?

My choice would have been for him not to sign such a horrendous law before he expounded upon the virtues of constitutional law and human rights. The Chinese must have gotten a real kick out of that speech.

Patrick Eisenhart

Augusta

Proposed budget will allow local control of local funds

Thanks to Michael Cuzzi (“Governor’s budget a disappointing fiscal shell game,” Maine Sunday Telegram Insight section, Jan. 20) for convincing me that the governor’s budget is definitely going in the correct direction.

Let’s see if I have this right. By using a large tax cut (that Mike said caters to the rich), the governor put money back into the pockets of the taxpayers so they can better absorb the inevitable local property tax increases (this should hit those evil rich people where it hurts) due to the discontinuance of revenue sharing (or as some people call it, “wealth redistribution”).

Instead of funds trickling back to the towns after being chewed up in Augusta by a convoluted formula, the citizens now will have what they always say they want: local control of their money.

After that is done, the governor wants to pay off the state’s debt to the hospitals by using anticipated revenues from a liquor deal while, in the short term, putting the onus of debt where it belongs: on the shoulders of the benefactors of the debt, the taxpayers.

Keep up the good work, Governor.

Kurt Christiansen

Windham