Tuesday, December 11, 2012
The current GOPer Plan to Win a Presidential Election One Day.
Since Mitt Romney's defeat in his entitlement-based campaign to move into the White House there has been a lot of talk among GOP pundits and consultants about the reasons for his defeat. All that punditry seems to focus on outside factors instead of the simplest and most logical reasons that the apologist for a Dickensian society lost: the majority of people voting simply didn't like him or his 'ideas' nor did they like or approve of the general message of the GOP. What I find interesting however is the recent plan by the pundits to fix the misidentified problem. Their problem is that they are going to continue to lose presidential elections as they continue to pander to what's left of a society and its social mores that have begun a mad rush to the exits. This country is not the same country demographically or politically it was fifty years ago, as one can easily see in the sea change between 2008 and this past election at least in the national debate that has been boiling around marriage equality in the four states where it was on the ballot this past month. In the analyses presented by GOP pundits they have urged that the cumbersome Electoral College systems (there are really 51 separate systems) that we use to actually elect our president isn't itself the problem. They see the problem in how those electoral votes are distributed and divvied up between the two major party candidates. There is very little hope under the current 'winner take all' system most states use to select presidential and vice presidential electors that the candidates of minor parties, such as Greens or Libertarians will ever win any electoral votes for their presidential candidates and this lack of hope will be cemented in place under the GOPer fixit plan. That problem flows naturally from the two party system we use. If the GOPers were really sincere in their desire to fix what they see as the evils of the present system they would push an amendment to our Constitution that eliminated the electoral college systems altogether so that presidents and vice presidents would be elected at large by the entire voting population. This action at least in theory would allow for that elusive condition, a level playing field on which to compete electorally and give minor parties and their candidates some hope of actually winning an election some day.
Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution and the 12th Amendment describe the electoral college and its duties and the manner of its selection and how and where they vote on the day specified by Congress. Our Constitution says that the electors of each state are chosen as their respective state legislatures determine. Currently the overwhelming majority of states and commonwealths that make up the Union use a winner take all system in which the candidate who gets the greatest number of popular votes earns all of that state's electoral votes. A few states award electoral votes by congressional district, this is the 'fix' being proposed by the GOP. Under this system a state would award its votes according to which candidate wins the most votes in each congressional district. On its face that sounds fair because it appears to be a local election where Joe Citizen gets a more direct impact on the selection of the president. It appears to bring democracy home to your own neighborhood. They say it removes the 'evils' from the current system which awards all a state's electoral votes to which ever candidate wins the most votes in the popular election. Their system just converts a statewide winner take all election to the same effect in each congressional district in the state.
The major failure of this plan, along with permanently freezing minor parties out of a chance ever to have their candidates elected is that assigning presidential electors in this fashion suffers from the same liberty defects that plague electing our congressional representatives by congressional district: apportionment and decennial re-apportionment and the gerrymanders they always create. The determination of your representation in the House closely tracks in time the decennial census the federal government conducts. Congressional and state legislative districts are generally reapportioned in the year after the census. These reapportioned districts are generally created by legislators who will run for re-election in the next election and the electoral maps tend to favor the re-election of the fellows who drew the districts. And of course there is great cooperation among the legislators participating in such shenanigans. It's another example of the play out and operation of the old adage that 'one hand washes the other'. Each congress critter represents approximately six hundred thousand people in order to keep faith with the Supreme Court's 'one man one vote' jurisprudence. As a result of this rural districts tend to be geographically large and urban districts to be much smaller and more compact. Rural areas tend to be more conservative than the residents of urban areas. The result is that rural areas tend to elect the same people to the same office year after year and those persons tend to be conservative in large part because of the demographics of rural districts. If each of those districts elect presidential electors they will be conservative too and will tend to vote that way when electing the chief executive. The GOPer plan is a new paint job on an old broken vehicle: divide and conquer.