Writings and observations

rainey

It’s been nearly a week since we common sense, right-thinking Americans lost control of the White House. That control – whatever is left of it – will be in the hands of the worst national party nominee for the office of President in our long history. There’s absolutely no evidence to suggest he’ll be any better after assuming full authority.

I’ve written nothing about the terrible miscarriage in the exercise of our democratic franchise. Voices and scribes far more thoughtful have summed up our political disaster – and what it bodes for our future. I’ve listened and read much of their output and am, for the most part, willing to let their words speak for me. But, there are some areas of the electoral process that need fixin’.

One is the Electoral College. We need to kill it. As is the case with some other items in our founding documents, this one seemed right for those times but is not for these times. The forefathers feared decisions made at the polls in 1776 (and beyond) might not be “good” decisions. In other words, not the ones more “professional” and “experienced” members of the Continental Congress might make. To head off what they saw as possible misdirection at the hands of citizens, they created the College as a sort of “safety net.” The “professionals” reserved the right to overrule the populace and decide the “correct” choice if – to them – the electorate screwed up.

Might have worked in 1776. But not 2016. Because of the existence of the Electoral College, and it’s flawed place in our political process, we’re now to have a “winner”who received less popular votes than “the loser.” Happened in 2000, too, with Gore and Bush. In fact, the “minority winner” scenario has been repeated several times.

Now, there may be scholars who’d opine the College is “holy” and “sacrosanct.” They’d posit the College was created by “visionaries” who got everything right in one shot. Road apples!

By their own terms, those 1776 “visionaries” repeatedly stated national authority was supposed to flow up from the people – not down from the elected. The College has become an impediment to that flow and that authority. Again, Gore-Bush, the College and the Court in 2000.

The claim “small states votes won’t count” holds no water. Small state votes don’t count now.

Voters in our day – as they did in 1776 – deserve the guaranteed right to make the national choice of a President. He/she with the most votes gets keys to the front door. Period. That’s the way we run all other elections. Not perfect. But it’s the right way to do things.

The other issue needing our urgent attention is who votes and where they live. Americans in 49 states got a lesson this year – a bitter lesson. They got “gobsmacked” the same way voters in Idaho have been for years. The “rural tail” wagged the “city dog.”

Idaho’s elected government has run that way for many a decade. Voters in the most populated areas are dictated to by country folk in the making of many important legislative decisions. Makes no difference that, as cities have grown and outlying communities have become smaller, the power has remained out in the hinterlands. If the words “urban renewal,” for example, offended country folk, they simply dictated to cities, who might be making good use of the development tool, and added so many restrictions it became more difficult to use. In some cases, impossible. Small town Idaho has also stopped population centers from passing certain local laws. Non-discrimination ordinances, for example.

Taxes, too, have been jiggered to benefit rural residents where possible. Allocations for rural roads versus city highways. Seats in the Idaho Legislature gerrymandered for both rural and Republican benefit. And a whole lot more.

Nationally in 2016, country folk stuck together in state after state to overcome urban voting blocks. It wasn’t just Montana or the Dakota’s or New Mexico where this has happened for years. No, it was Ohio and Pennsylvania and Florida and Michigan and Illinois and Wisconsin. Large urban areas were “gobsmacked” by what had traditionally been the lesser vote totals from “out there.”

Coupled with the sometimes illegal gerrymandering of Republican districts by Republican majorities in national census years, the 2016 election was far from “one-man, one-vote.” Or “one woman,” if you prefer. Courts have had to step in when boundary fudging got too far afield to direct state authorities to redraw some of the lines.

Taken together, head counting, vote counting, legislative and congressional redistricting and continued existence of the Electoral College have got to be seriously addressed. Little by little, national decision-making by popular vote has been distorted and twisted so far out of shape, the average American marking a single ballot has little to no voice in the Republic.

Finally, the issue of disenfranchising voters had a large affect in 2016. SCOTUS gutted the Voting Rights Act a year ago and look what happened in the next national election in the Carolina’s, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kansas, Florida and Missouri to name a few.

We’re in frighteningly new territory now in politics, society, economics, business and by all other measurements. Old rules and old ways, which were the security of this nation for 240 years, have either been ignored or become outdated or have been selfishly perverted.

Our national government and our individual freedoms are now a whole new ball game. Like it or not, here we are. What the hell will happen with the next “gobsmack?”

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Rainey