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story.lead_photo.caption Brenda Looper

With nine days left before Christmas, I find myself wishing for a few things. Not that any of those wishes will be granted, but wouldn't it be nice? I know I'd love to see these things under the tree Christmas morning.

ā€¢ The return of sanity.

I would love logging on to my email accounts or my Facebook account without seeing evidence that friends and acquaintances have bought in to a cult-like group of people who cannot accept reality and who define Americanism and patriotism as agreement with them. Worse, they see masks as a political statement rather than an infection control device.

The election is over, and no one of authority has found evidence of widespread fraud; if there were, it would defy all logic that the fraud be only in states the president didn't win. Judges, many of them appointed by the president in question, rejected nearly all claims brought before them, primarily because conspiracy theories, random human errors and partisan statements are not evidence of fraud, especially when it comes to disenfranchising millions of voters.

More than 81 million Americans voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, while more than 74 million voted for Donald Trump and Mike Pence. It was a record number of ballots cast in an extraordinary year (government response to covid-19 most certainly had an effect), and I pray that each vote was cast with the intent that it was the best thing for the United States.

Regardless of how one voted, we have to remember that we all have to live here. That means we must put aside that which divides us and agree to the same basic reality and rules that allow us to live together peacefully. Encouraging lawbreaking or flouting of public health recommendations is just nuts. Threatening government officials or others when things don't turn out your way is not and should never be acceptable. No one should fear stepping outside their houses because of their beliefs or profession. Too many of us are living that fear now, not because of a virus, but because other humans have called for violence.

ā€¢ A better way of meting out electoral votes.

I don't think we should completely do away with the electoral college, but I do believe that all states should use the same allotment method, but not winner-take-all. I'd recommend a more proportional allotment, either by congressional district or by assigning electors based on the percentage of votes received statewide. The two at-large votes would go to whichever candidate won the state. Only two states, Maine and Nebraska, use such a system now.

Why would we consider this? Because, as Pew Research found, the electoral college "consistently produces more lopsided results than the popular vote." That makes close wins in the popular vote (or losses) look more like landslides. For example, Pew noted, Biden won 51.3 percent of the popular vote, but his electoral college count of 306 is 56.9 percent of the possible 538 votes due to what Pew calls the electoral vote inflation factor.

"Looking back at every presidential election since 1828 (when they began to resemble today's system), the winner's electoral vote share has, on average, been 1.36 times his popular vote share," Pew wrote. While proportional allotment in each state wouldn't necessarily be close to actual percentages in those states, over the nation, it would more closely resemble the actual vote. Then maybe we wouldn't see something like in 1980, when Ronald Reagan won 51 percent of the popular vote, but 91 percent of the electoral college total.

It would also maybe make those who crow about their wins temper their enthusiasm when they realize that other people actually exist and voted for someone else. Those maps with all that red, much of it representing land? They should really be shades of purple because there are no states where only Democrats or only Republicans get votes. Your neighbor's vote should count just as much as yours regardless of who earned his vote.

There is one more thing that I would love to see this year: that we all calm the heck down about "Happy holidays."

Joe Biden's election doesn't mean you can't say "Merry Christmas" anymore ... partly because it was never forbidden before, except by the Puritans (they weren't fans of merriment and outlawed the celebration of Christmas in the Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1659-1681).

When someone says "Happy holidays," it usually means that that person is being considerate of someone whose beliefs they don't know, especially considering the abundance of religious and other holidays at this time of the year. Those of us who use that salutation will also use more specific greetings when speaking to someone whose beliefs we do know.

Responding by spitefully barking out your preferred greeting or otherwise expressing your displeasure is hardly in the spirit of the season, is it? Just smile, deliver the greeting back, and save your venom.

It's really not that hard to be considerate and kind. At least it's not supposed to be.


Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Read her blog at Email her at


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