Monday, November 10, 2008

Affirmative action, GOP style

Federalists (nearly all of them Republicans) praise the Electoral College because it implements federalism. Federalism has states picking presidents, not us. The enemy philosophy is apparently populism, where the people pick the presidents (as in most democracies).

Federalists must despise Abraham Lincoln, who prayed "that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." Federalists would have Lincoln saying "that government of the states, by the states, for the states…"

Federalism gave us the U.S. Senate, in which each California senator's vote represents 60 times as many people as one Wyoming senator's vote. It also gave us an electoral system in which three California voters have less say in picking a president than one Wyoming voter.

Smaller states tend to be more conservative than larger ones (Hawaii and Texas notwithstanding), making the Electoral College an affirmative action program for Republicans. In the last election it took 104 Democrats to produce the same number of electors as 100 Republican voters. In a close election—such as in 2000—that's all the Republican Party needed (along with an activist Supreme Court).

But the real irony is that the Electoral College no longer preserves states' rights. Now only the priorities of a few "battleground states" count. The rest—including California—have become little more than ATMs for both parties, with up to 49% of voters in such states feeling disenfranchised.

What worked in 1798 has become dramatically out of date.

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