The District Plan

The GOP is moving forward, in several states, with plans to change how electoral votes are allocated. The most recent — passed by the disgusting tactic of waiting until a black Democratic senator was attending the inauguration to shove it through by one vote — is even worse than the plan in Pennsylvania. Under this plan, electoral votes would be allocated to the winner of each congressional district with the remaining two votes going to the candidates who wins the most districts. Jamelle Bouie breaks down the problem with this:

Because Democratic voters tend to cluster in highly-populated urban areas, and Republican voters tend to reside in more sparsely populated regions, this makes land the key variable in elections—to win the majority of a state’s electoral votes, your voters will have to occupy the most geographic space.

In addition to disenfranchising voters in dense areas, this would end the principle of “one person, one vote.” If Ohio operated under this scheme, for example, Obama would have received just 22 percent of the electoral votes, despite winning 52 percent of the popular vote in the state.

This is not even a remotely conservative idea. This is a straight up attempt to win elections by trickery. Under this system, a Republican candidate could score well short of a majority of votes and still win the state. Does that make any sense? Does it sound just and reasonable? Would we be nodding our heads and saying, “that sounds good” if Democrats were doing this?

(Actually, we don’t need to think very hard. When Lani Guinier was nominated for assistant AG, the Republicans objected because she had written in favor of voting systems that were skewed to give minorities more votes than majorities.)

Furthermore, we have talked about the GOP’s problem getting votes from anyone other than white men. Whether this plan is intended to disenfranchise black voters or not is beside the point; that’s the way everyone will perceive it. We could be talking another two or three decades of the GOP getting single digit votes from African-Americans.

I also can’t see how this would pass Constitutional muster. While the states are allowed to pick their electors any they want, Bush v. Gore established the precedent that equal protection applies to votes in a Presidential election (and how fun will that be: to watch liberals cite the hated Bush v. Gore as precedent). So the likely result of this would be a bruising Constitutional fight in which the GOP is arguing for effectively disenfranchising millions of voters.

This is stupid and mindless. If the GOP wants to win elections, rigging the game is not the solution. Putting forward a positive agenda, showing competent management skills and convincing everyone that a conservative agenda is good for them is the way. Chris Christie has pursued this strategy in New Jersey and is now so popular that Cory Booker may aver from challenging him in favor of a Senate Run (this, in turn, has provoked to respond in a way that would certainly be called racist is he were a Republican rather than a senile doddering Democrat).

But, of course, rebuilding conservatism is hard work. It might take five to ten years to pay off. Rigging an election could pay off now.

The biggest problem with the GOP is that everything they have done for the last decade has been oriented around winning today without any thought to the long term. This is why entitlements were expanded under Bush instead of reformed. This is why their attacks on Obama consist of news gotchyas instead of deconstructions of his bad policies (and, not coincidentally, why Obama has thumped them in two elections). This is why our budget process has devolved into a series of self-created crises — the cliff, the debt ceiling, the sequester. This is why the GOP in Virginia thinks that creating a system where a Republican can lose the popular vote but when the electoral — by design, not by accident — is a reasonable response to two electoral defeats.

The GOP used to be about the long term. Until they are again, they will continue to lose elections and they will continue to flounder to advance anything approaching conservatism.

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  1. Mississippi Yankee

    Hal where were your tears when Wisconsin and Maine passed quite similar laws several years ago?

    How would you feel about “No Taxee No Votee”? I

    Hot! Thumb up 8

  2. Hal_10000 *

    Hal where were your tears when Wisconsin and Maine passed quite similar laws several years ago?

    I think you’re talking about Maine and Nebraska. Both states allocate electoral votes by congressional district but then give the two deciding votes to the winner of the state popular vote. They do not gerrymander congressional district to create more democrats and then give the electoral votes to whoever wins the most gerrymandered districts.

    And I opposed that as well anyway.

    How would you feel about “No Taxee No Votee”? I

    I would think it was unconstitutional. The Court has typically struck down those initiatives since their history is ugly.

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  3. Argive

    How would you feel about “No Taxee No Votee”? I

    To be a little more specific than Hal was, the 24th Amendment states:

    The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

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  4. Mississippi Yankee

    This is why I brought up no taxee no votee…

    A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.

    Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage. — Alexis de Tocqueville

    And yes Hal I meant Nebraska not Wisconsin. And because of the political make-up of those states in 2008 the outcome that was sought was no different from what the GOP is seeking now.

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  5. Kimpost

    I got that, but that’s just opinion. We don’t know if a mixed economy society can exist forever (probably not) or for how long. I choose to believe that man is capable of mixing welfare and freedom. Anyway, the welfare state is here, we’ll see if it collapses, when, where and how – as well as what comes after.

    I just don’t see a better alternative. Most pure ism’s kind of suck.

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  6. Kimpost

    Sometimes I’m not sure if you guys are kidding or not. :)

    You might as well suggest “if you make too much money you shouldn’t be able to vote”. Just as absurd.

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  7. Mississippi Yankee

    MY, I agree that everyone should pay some tax. But Constitutionally you can’t make a vote conditional on it.

    Actually Hal that was the gist of my question. Constitutional law changes from time to time. Case in point the 24th Amendment. In fact I think the pace is about to pick up here. Sadly not in regard to this issue.

    Sometimes I’m not sure if you guys are kidding or not. :)

    Kim (can I call you Kim?),
    The world is watching all of the EU, and your non-EU Sweden too, and the ‘have-nots’ are constantly voting, or electing those who will, a greater piece of the earned wealth of the ‘haves’. Logic would tell us there is only one way this can end. And communism has proved that forced shared wealth always ends with forced shared misery.
    Or perhaps it was just the wrong people doing the forcing right?

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  8. Kimpost

    It’s not about how communism works or has worked, it’s about how a mixed economy has or should work in a modern democracy. Sure I suppose you could vote yourself to goodies, but the amount to which that is possible is small in our respective societies. And how many do you know who vote solely with their wallets? I know I sure as hell don’t.

    There’s no logic in thinking that people will vote themselves to ruin. It’s not inevitable, Taxes can go up and they can go down. Size of government can go up, and down. People are, or should be, smart enough to keep it like that.

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  9. Mississippi Yankee

    it’s about how a mixed economy has or should work in a modern democracy.

    Yeah there’s that ‘coulda, shoulda, woulda’ if only the right people were in charge.

    And how many do you know who vote solely with their wallets? I know I sure as hell don’t.

    Right now we are at a tipping point in the US. The highest percentage of folks ever on welfare, food-stamps ect…
    Are you suggesting that these people are voting for smaller government and tightening of the entitlements?

    Size of government can go up, and down.

    OK, now you’re just pulling my leg.

    People are, or should be, smart enough to keep it like that.

    That’s you bringing “teh funny” right?

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