Posted on | January 25, 2013 | No Comments
Things don’t always work out the way you want and there are a number of ways you can respond. You can sit back reevaluate what your goals were and see if they really were the best way forward. You can look around and see if there were things in your sphere of control that didn’t work the way you wanted them to. Or, in the most desperate of cases, you can look at the rules governing what you wanted and just change them to fit, that way you don’t need to improve at all. But, you must be careful when choosing that last path because it could have unforeseen consequences that just may throw a big wet blanket on your warm, cozy vision of the future.
Let’s look at the current GOP strategy to switch over the rules in some key states in relation to how they award their electoral college votes during a presidential election. Currently all of the six states in question are what’s called “winner take all” states, meaning whichever candidate wins the popular vote in that state gets all the electoral votes, the whole kit and caboodle What the GOP would like to change at the state level is move them to a “proportional award” based on how many congressional districts the candidate won. If you win eighty percent of the districts, you get eighty percent of the electoral votes from that state. Sounds fair, right? Upon closer inspection, not in the least.
Each of the states in question were ones that voted for Obama or “went blue” in 2012 and some were the same in 2008, yet they have a majority Republican number of congressional districts. This would inevitably lead to the states awarding a higher proportion of their electoral votes to the Republican candidate. The failure to something as basic as fairness comes to light when you drill down and find that if a majority of the voters in that state happened to be in more densely populated districts and leaned their voting power into the Democratic candidate, it would no longer matter because they would be outgunned by fewer votes cast out in the more rural districts.
Rachel Maddow has done extensive coverage of this already, including exposing the GOP signature gerrymandering tool, REDMAP, and much of the credit for this becoming a nationwide story deservedly lands at her desk. Her passion behind the story is well founded because this strikes to the heart of our democracy. The attempt by the GOP is a crystal clear gerrymander of the entire country now that they have done the same at the state level. If successful it would enshrine the Republican candidate for president in all foreseeable elections.
Looking back up to the title of this article, you might be wondering, “How could this backfire? Even if they drop their plans now (which two of the states are already in the process of doing), how does this make their situation worse than before?”
Good question. This James Bond-style sneak maneuver has brought increased sunlight onto the antiquity of the electoral college system and its inherent flaws. Some very determined and well connected folks are putting their shoulders behind a much more big-D democratic idea of “one person, one vote”, all equal value across the entire country. They want to change the presidential election into a national popular vote system; whoever gets the most votes wins. Period.
The reason why this would be bad for the GOP is the current trending of national voting patterns bodes very badly against them. In fact, if this was in place in 2000, Al Gore would’ve been president (not mentioning the fact the electoral college ended up being in his favor as well.)
The voices against this plan say it will unfairly empower larger Democratic states like New York and California against smaller Republican strongholds like Alabama and the deep South. That may be true, but the fact remains it is the most pure and fair way of electing our leaders for a national scale position. Every voice in the country should have equal weight and it would stop us from bombarding only those small handful of “swing states” with all the political ads and television coverage. Ohio and Florida could stop fearing the onslaught of camera trucks on a four-year rotation.
If the GOP are tired (after only two cycles) of losing on a national level, instead of trying to fix the rules in their favor, they should fix their party. They are falling farther and father from the mainstream and relying on increasingly heated and insane rhetoric to draw attention to themselves, but it’s a losing gambit. They need to refuse to allow their party to be hijacked by extremists and let moderation and compromise exist once again as a part of a working government. Then you will quickly see people returning to the tent of the party that once proudly wore the banner of civil rights and equality instead of the one it wears now.