I like to defend large media against either brand of political rancor, whether right or left (because let's face it: both sides are peopled with loonies who think the media's out to get them), but the front page story in the San Francisco Chronicle today was so deliriously Democrat-leaning that I can do nothing but cry foul.
Although I encourage you to go read the article, you might not. So let me tell you what's wrong with it, starting with the title and subtitle:
WINNER-TAKE-ALL? NOT NECESSARILY
Move to split state's electoral votes by congressional district could elect a GOP president
Now for those of you modern Americans without an opinion on the Electoral College (even after the last two elections), let me tell you what your opinion should be: The Electoral College is antiquated and we're ready to switch over to a more directly democratic (little d) method for picking a president.
For you farners, here's the deal: Each state votes for president. Whoever wins the popular vote in a state gets all it's Electoral College votes. California, for instance, has 55 Electoral College votes (out of 538 total, so it's a lot). California tends to vote for Democrats, but not overwhelmingly so. Which means that millions of votes basically get tossed out when the state's 55 electors fly to DC and turn in blue ballots. No one should like this. No democrat (little d) at least, that's for sure.
So some Republicans in Sacramento have come up with this brilliant idea to let the state's Congressional Districts pick their own Electors, one by one.
Skip this little-text explanation on why we have 55 votes if you don't need it:
So! Bicameral legislature! The Senate = two seats per state. The House = 435 seats split amongst the states by population. The Electoral College = The Senate + The House, divvied up by legislative seats. California has two Senators and 53 Reps, ergo we have 55 Electoral votes. Savvy?
Now, in this proposed plan, the winner of the state, instead of getting all 55 votes, would get 2. And each Congressional District (an area electing a single Representative) would get 1 vote each. And how they voted would determine which Elector they send to vote for president.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, I'm from Kern County. A county that never votes Democratic (the opposite of Park City, Utah, you might say). So except for the few Demos scattered here and there, our vote for president hasn't counted since . . . Reagan, I think.
Me, I don't know what party I'll be voting for in 2008 yet. There are worthy candidates on both sides and we'll just have to see how things go. But our friends the Democrats have been screwed by the Electoral College recently, winning the popular vote nationally but losing anyway, so they've been moaning (and rightly so) about how the Electoral College sucks and is a big meanie.
And so this proposal, a step closer to onevote=onevote, should be welcomed by them. But no. It isn't. And why not? Because without California's 55 votes, they don't think they can win. And, as always, winning first, principals second. This is why I really don't much care for either of the Big Parties. Crap like this. Just check out these quotes from the article:
Howard Dean: "This is not reform. It's just another Republican attempt to rig an election. This is partisan, it's wrong and the Democratic Party will not stand for a repeat of 2000."
Uh huh. Now, I'll admit that short term, this is extremely likely to benefit the GOP, but as California goes, so goes the country. If this move proved trendsetting, the presidential election would be brought closer to the people--and isn't that what being a progressive is all about? And might this not have won you 2000, had it started happening twenty years ago?
Barbara Boxer: "We need to beat this and will do whatever is necessary. Sure, it's expensive, but this is our democracy, this is the presidency."
It's amazing to me that she thinks the-believing-people's donations to her party could be better spent running an anti-populist campaign than actually promoting her party's candidate. But whatever. She's just my Senator. What do I care if she makes $165,200 per annum to spout nonsense?
I just can't help thinking that the timing of this proposal really sucks. The Democrats (big D) will paint this in an evil light and defeat it at the polls and it will be tainted and thus never come up again--all because the Big Election takes place five months after the vote on the proposal--if it even gets on the ballot.
If this weren't so near an important election, if we could talk about this without talking about Party, if we were just a weeeee bit more mature, could anyone really honestly ethically be against this idea?
Correct answer: No.
But the drive to find correct answers is weak in partisan politics.
Can you prove me wrong?