Thomas Jefferson warned that Americans should not “remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”
So when the Florida Legislature finally saw fit to replace Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith with educator and activist Mary McLeod Bethune in the National Statuary Hall Collection in Washington, D.C., I felt some relief. However, even after years of recognition of Smith’s manifest unfitness for such a place of honor and near-unanimous support for civil-rights hero Bethune as a replacement, our Legislature managed to pass only a compromise bill loaded with cruel irony. The move requires the continued display of Smith in a public location at taxpayer expense, but necessitates private funds be raised for Bethune. Despite the obvious flaws, this statue switcheroo is a step in the right direction — that direction being no longer honoring white supremacists who actively fought against the United States.
Having finally settled the statue debate, and while we are tearing down the vestiges of systematic racial disenfranchisement, I suggest we focus on one relic of our nation’s past still wreaking havoc today: the Electoral College.