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Nap Time!!!

Friday, September 01, 2006
More bad ideas!

Well, government-funded health care was a pretty bad idea, but now we've got a pretty blatant power grab. The idea is to get 270 electoral votes' worth of states to agree to always throw their electoral votes behind the president with the popular vote.

One current concern is that no one really cares about California when it comes to campaigning. But with this proposal, people would care! Another proposal that would accomplish this would be to cast electoral votes in proportion to votes in the state. This would also preserve California's control over its own votes, and could be done immediately. But that plan would help Republicans, while the other one would help Democrats. Which one was picked? Hmm...

I don't like this new idea for two reasons. First, it pretty much forfeits California's claim to any semblance of sovereignty over its own people. Medical marijuana conflicts can't be taken seriously in light of something like this.

More problematic for me is the fact that this would take rural folks completely out of elections. To me, the opinions of six million people huddled around a pond and six million people scattered across 100 times as much area, with 100 times as many cultural settings, do not carry equal weight. The electoral college's inequity prevents elections from being dominated by one type of person, which could have disasterous consequences on our protections from our governments. "Equal rights," which grant individuals equal protection from the government, and "proportional domination," which grants folks power over their fellow Americans based on their population, are very different issues, and confusing the two, like the rhetoric surrounding this plan does, would be devastating.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 9/01/2006 11:14:00 PM #
Comments (9)
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because of course one person in montana is worth 3 in california in terms of importance of their opinion...

the whole regional diversity point is important, but the current system is so overbalanced towards the rural minority its insane.
I don't think it's insane, and America seems to be working well enough so far. Do we really want to tear it up to experiment?
I agree more with nuance. The current system is too broken. And I'm not sure I get how entering into an agreement with other states forfeits sovereignty.

Sure, you don't want a system where everyone just campaigns in a few big cities, but the current system where people in Wyoming or Rhode Island can have much more powerful votes than people in Texas or New York is too slanted and undemocratic. In fact, I'd argue that those small states are much less diverse and have fewer "cultural settings" than larger, thriving states that contain both rural and metropolitan communities.

Besides, even if small states lose their absurdly powerful advantage in the electoral college, they'll still have their absurdly powerful advantage in the senate, since the constitution makes it essentially impossible to change (it's the only thing requiring unanimous agreement of every state).
It's not like a Wyomingian can vote three times for president. The state is one fitieth the size, but only one twentieth the electoral power as a whole. (or something) They don't have an "advantage."

Yes, small states have fewer "cultural settings" than large states, but that's because they're smaller. On a per capita basis, though, my experience makes me think they have more.

What's broken about the system? Again, we aren't talking about rights here. We're talking about the ability to dominate fellow Americans.
I think saying it's about "dominating fellow Americans" is a bit out there. I think the current system is flawed and favors small states by giving their voters disproportionate voting power because of the +2 issue (yes, having 1/50th the population and 1/20th the voting power IS an advantage).

But let's ignore the issue of small states versus big states for a minute because I think a popular vote system is better for everyone, including those in small states. In the current system, a huge percentage of the population is essentially ignored regardless of what type of state they live in. A popular vote system would make it so Republicans in Orange County and farmers in the Central Valley could have their votes actually matter. Likewise people in Texas and New York and virtually every state (since most states seem to vote consistently for one side) would be better represented. Instead of a candidate saying "Well, I can ignore states A through T and concentrate on a few," every vote would really matter. You'd get more people in every state represented because their votes would actually matter for once, even if they're a democrat living in Kansas or a Republican in New York. And I don't think this would cause candidates to only campaign in big cities. Sure it would make get out the vote drives much more important, but that hardly means big cities would dominate national politics.

And I really, really, really don't buy that Wyomingians or what have you inherently deserve more of a say because they're not in a big city. I think that analysis also ignores that states aren't about just big cities. Many big states have both major cities and farming interests.

Small states have a lot of protections via the constitution that they wouldn't be losing, and they'd be gaining some advantages. Put most simply, more small states would be campaigned in. Why is anyone gonna even bother to campaign in Kansas when it's so solidly Republican? And even though the current system aids small states statistically, it usually devolves into each candidate pouring 90 gajillion dollars into Florida or Pennsylvania at the last minute because of the winner-take-all state system. I think that if it was all just about the national popular vote, you'd see much more diverse campaigning reaching many more people across the country, and no candidate could really succeed just by trying to get New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles to turn out big. Especially since in a new system, I bet Republicans in those cities and states who currently say "Fuck it, my vote doesn't matter" would be much more likely to vote.
I'm not saying Wyomingians individually deserve more of a say. I'm saying that six million people scattered across three states should have more of a say than six million people huddled around SF Bay. Not because they deserve it, but because it protects us. In a popular vote system, campaigns will be directed towards large homogenous groups, because the cost-to-benefit is better that way.

There are many advantages to the district-by-district winner-take-all system. You can glance over at Mexico to see what happens when "every vote counts." When you have the whole country in which to find "missing votes" or whatever, victory could very well become an issue of who can commit fraud better. A couple extra votes per district could turn an election around.

Is there any real value in the "fuck it, my vote doesn't matter" folks actually voting? Is the system really "broken," as you said? Does it not work?

I don't see what you find "out there" about domination through governance. This is what it means to choose the people who run the country. I know a lot of us view politics as a sport, and so we want to see it played "fair" or whatever, but it actually matters for some people. If the "unfair" system works and protects us from the government, I'm going to fight replacing it with a "fair" one which doesn't. The fact that we'd still have some protections doesn't mean we should give up others.
I'm not saying the current system is god awful, but I think it doesn't offer more protection against government than a system where more people voted and were better represented. I think our government would be better if more people were involved and interested everywhere, and the current system greatly discourages participation.

Your issue seems to be that you think if the system were fairer and people were more equally represented, homogenuous and giant cities would dominate the country. I just don't buy it. It's a very diverse country and cities are very diverse. Just because LA or NY are predmoninantly liberal doesn't mean everyone in the city is the same. Big cities have huge numbers of both conservatives and liberals. Not to mention ethnicities and many other groups. Republicans routinely win the NY Governorship and that's a state completely dominated by one city. Similarly, farm interests and rural interests exist in many huge states with huge cities in them, and they still get subsidies and protections. I don't think a better voting system is going to strip them of any protections; I think it'll help everyone participate.

What I mean by "out there" is assuming that popular vote will lead to outright domination by people in cities who will turn the government against everyone else. Creating a national popular vote is not the same as abolishing statehood or the federal/state barrier. It's about creating a better, more representative voting system so that everyone gets heard, whether in Montana or New York.
That's not what I meant with "domination." Governing is domination. This is true in a popular vote system, an electoral college system, a dictatorship, whatever. My point was that, because we're talking about domination, it's not an issue of "equal rights" or "fairness."

I fail to see the advantage in participation for participation's sake. "Everyone being heard" means nothing to me. Neither does "representation."

I guess I'm just not a democrat. I don't love the idea of democracy like a lot of folks seem to. A system where a bunch of people vote like idiots isn't "better" than a dictatorship in an absolute moral sense. I end up supporting it because there isn't really a better option, but what makes it "better" is that it protects us from the government better, not because ignorant people have more of a say. So an arbitrary set of rules that discourages random groups of folk from voting is just fine and dandy with me. I don't throw a fit that my presence here helps get Democrats electoral votes regardless of my personal preferences.

What I want is for politicians to be afraid of doing anything majorly stupid because of the backlash in the polls, and a popular vote gets in the way of that backlash, because it'll be muted by averages. On the other hand, in an electoral college, the politicians can't do anything that pisses off groups of people in a few states. They can't piss off Ohioans by doing something even if they confidently know that they'd get fifty times as many votes in New York and LA as they'd lose in Ohio. The groups they can't piss off are smaller, and thus more specific, and they can't play the balancing act on as large of a scale.

And since the city folk drive the money, they can't piss off the city folk, either. So candidates have to tread gently, cowering in mortal fear from doing anything too meaningful, which is exactly what I want from a government.
No more serpent redistricting ( Gerrymandering)- get back to square peg-like districts and make it fair.

Hasn’t Pelosi been in Congress since the last ice-age?
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