Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Electoral College Reform Helps Progressivism

The New York Times offers us a clear statement of "national popular vote" reform to the Electoral College system of electing our President. The Times writes,

Candidates have no incentive to campaign in, or address the concerns of, states that reliably vote for a particular party. In recent years, the battleground in presidential elections has shrunk drastically. In 1960, 24 states, with 327 electoral votes, were battleground states, according to estimates by National Popular Vote, the bipartisan coalition making the new proposal. In 2004, only 13 states, with 159 electoral votes, were. As a result, campaigns and national priorities are stacked in favor of a few strategic states. Ethanol fuel, a pet issue of Iowa farmers, is discussed a lot. But issues of equal concern to states like Alabama, California, New York and Indiana are not.

The Electoral College discourages turnout because voters in two-thirds of the nation know well before Election Day who will win their states. It also discriminates among voters by weighing presidential votes unequally. A Wyoming voter has about four times as much impact on selecting that state's electors as a California voter does on selecting that state's.

The answer to all of these problems is direct election of the president. Past attempts to abolish the Electoral College by amending the Constitution have run into difficulty. But National Popular Vote, which includes several former members of Congress, is offering an ingenious solution that would not require a constitutional amendment. It proposes that states commit to casting their electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote. These promises would become binding only when states representing a majority of the Electoral College signed on.

Makes sense to this Scot! Progressives can benefit greatly from a national dialogue in that our ideas will win if they can be heard reliably. Many House Districts are so gerrymandered that they are no longer competitive in the marketplace of ideas. I thought markets were good? Senate terms are so long! In the Red States, especially in the South and Mountain West, Progressives can hardly even get a shot at some Senate seats. The same holds for Governors in many of these states. Getting a national message might let our ideas gradually be heard. Right now the Conservative noise machine can get away with much of their garbage as it becomes a war of political machines and talking points rather than solutions. The bottom line is that much of the nation never really hears from Progressives. Peace ... or War!

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