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Posts published in “Day: April 27, 2021”

The Equal Voice Voting option


Not all but a great many of us have serious complaints about the electoral college, the constitutionally-mandated collection of people that, most directly, elects the presidents of the United States.

Established in the constitution as a sot of uncomfortable compromise, it has shaken and wobbled through the years and when pressed given us some unfortunate results. Because electoral votes are counted in a winner-take-all approach state by state, the national results won't necessarily match the preferences of America's votes. Just that happened in 2016 (and 1888).

There's not a lot we can readily do, however, to get to the simplest and most logical result, which is to elect our presidents by direct popular vote. As a practical matter, since the EC is embedded in the constitution, the job of getting that change made would be a political lift beyond the superheroic. In anything like the near term, that simply isn't going to happen.

There are alternatives for working within the system. One, which almost a third of the states has signed on to, involves a compact in which a large group of states would agree that their electoral votes would go to whichever presidential candidate receives the most popular votes nationally. (It would have to be approved by states accounting for at least 270, the number needed to elect a president, to go into effect.) It might be better than the current system, because at least the will of the people is more likely to be directly carried out, but it does have a series of problems of its own, including some questions of constitutionality.

A new book out this year, All Votes Matter, by game theorist Jerry Spriggs, of West Linn, Oregon, proposes another way to use the current electoral college system in a way that offers some significant benefits.

There's a hint of what could be in the states of Maine and Nebraska, where the electoral college votes are awarded in a split fashion, two of them (in each state) reflecting the statewide vote but the others matched to the presidential winner in each of the congressional districts. (Both of those state split their electoral college votes between the candidates in 2020.)

What Spriggs calls Equal Voice Voting would involving splitting every state's electoral college vote based on the portion of the vote each candidate received. As a practical matter, that would mean major-party presidential candidates rarely would receive all the electoral votes from any state, in a block; they would be split depending on how strongly or poorly the candidates did. That would have meant, in 2020, that Donald Trump would have gotten some of the electoral votes from California, and Joe Biden would have gotten some of the votes from Texas - even, very likely, one of Idaho's four electoral college votes.

Part of the idea is that, for voters, no one would be shut out because they live in a "red" or "blue" state - even the underdogs are likely to collect some votes there. Another idea is that this approach would mean the electoral college vote would much more closely reflect the actual popular vote. Spriggs reviewed the national results over the last 16 presidential elections and found those electoral college votes were a close match for the popular vote.

He has some concerns I don't share or think as critical as he does - the significance of votes by states and the risk of abuse in elections, for example. And he tends to elide, as the book closes, the extreme difficulty of getting all 50 states to adopt such a system, which is what they'd have to do to make it work. (Say you're in a red or blue state: Do you want to go first in surrendering some of your party's advantages? Probably not until the other side puts up as well.)

But he makes an excellent case for the usefulness of Equal Voice Voting as a means of developing one-man one-vote system without having to take a run at the constitution. Check it out. And maybe give a little thought to launching some support for it.

It must end


There are many of us who’d like to believe our national - and in some cases local - political divisions will be smoothed over one of these days and we’ll get back to “normal.”

NEW FLASH: It’s not going to happen! Not in the next 50 years!
The reasons are many. And pretty plain.

Our system of governance has been under continued stress the last 70 years as never before. Wars with no goal - no defined ending. Military spending - on an annual basis - more than the next eight largest countries combined. Out-of-control spending that’s left national needs unmet, stoking resentment and hatred among people who’ve suffered because of societal needs going unanswered.

Unlimited dollars pouring into PACs and other political coffers virtually assuring politicians of continuance in office has meant less turnover for seating newcomers with their own views to offer. Voices of division daily driving wedges between people, assuring continued political division between political parties - drowning out efforts to reunite - efforts to overcome past differences.

Even issues of a national pandemic killing over half–a-million Americans and efforts to keep guns out of the hands of killers have been politicalized, causing death and continued destruction. Even the unwarranted deaths of children.

The fires of hate and division are stoked daily. By those in office, those civilian voices making seven-figure incomes spewing lies and hatred. By those following a leader, astride a golden calf, who’s blinded them to fact, honesty and truth, in numbers sufficiently large enough to dilute reason and comity for the rest of us.

At the moment, there’s no functioning Republican Party - no core of reasonable values and goals sufficient to attract mass support. Unless - and until - such a viable center can be established, millions of voters seeking a political “home” of honest, goal-driven effort and shared beliefs will drift aimlessly in a world of distortions and untruths.

More and more of us will avoid both political parties and become disaffiliated, turning deaf ears to plaintive political voices, uninvolved in matters of political importance. Unaffiliated with political interests.

Maybe the largest cause of division is in the ranks of those who’ve achieved some political success and have shamefully used the powers
of their office to stoke anger and lies. Cruz, Hawley, Kennedy, Biggs, Gosar, Greene, McConnell, McCarthy and dozens more have shown - thru word and deed - they’re committed to no political achievement; only to continue current divisions.

The one common thread dealing with those named? They’re what national republicanism is today. Deliberately small “r.”

For the last 12 years, they - and others of the same party - have decried “Obamacare” without producing a single, workable alternative. Not one in 12 years! Just more empty voices of distraction.

Over the last four years, Mitch McConnell kept a stranglehold on any legislation from a Democrat-controlled House. The thousands of hours of work represented in those bills were killed - DOA. And his Party produced what? Nothing. Nothing.

Some of those named participated in - or otherwise supported - the vandals that attacked our national Congress. Actually lent the authority of their political office to the death and vandalism that resulted. And those congressional enablers continue in office.

It’s not Republican versus Democrat keeping us apart any more. It’s honesty versus lies. It’s hatred versus comity, regardless of political affiliation. It’s unfounded bigotry versus inclusion. It’s creating continual verbal and legislative barriers versus coming to the table to reason. It’s “us versus them.”

It’s interesting that recent polling shows many Republicans are supportive of a Democrat President. In less than 100 days on office, a Democrat has accomplished not just his own party’s work but has received positive feedback from the other side. Maybe we’re seeing the beginnings of creation of some common political ground.

There is no short-term answer to return us to “normal” - whatever that was. This milieu of disparate voices will continue unabated for the near future. Maybe the long future. What will come of that - what danger it poses for our Republic - no one knows.

But, eventually, there will come a new political structure - a new organizational order - some mutually agreed-upon political environment we cannot predict. It may not involve political parties as we know them now. There may not be the traditional Democrat or Republican system we’ve lived with for centuries.

Whatever this nation is bound for, one thing is clear. We cannot - we must not - continue the way things are today if we want to reclaim our position as a world power. The discord, the divisions, the wedges that have separated us one-from-the-other have become cancerous and threaten our national future,

There will be - there must be - a time when the current discord - the current anger - the current distrust - the current animosity - will end.

There must be!