Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Soylent Green is Arkansans (and They Voted for It!)

HB 1339, the political hack employment act, would lock Arkansas' electors into voting for President whoever won the national popular vote, regardless of the vote in this state. The House just voted to pass this madness.

Word is that legislators are getting wined and dined on this one by national interests like never before. Why? I suspect it is because the way Presidential elections are done now means that most of the money is spent in maybe ten key swing states. TV and radio stations in non-swing states want a piece of that action. Political hacks who get hired to run political campaigns (yeah, three fingers pointing back at me on that one) around the nation want in on the action too. A popular vote win would spread campaign dollars out. I believe that is the real reason for the push behind this bill.

Advocates say that polls favor it, but that is only because the people are being misinformed about it by the same big media that stands to benefit from the measure. I say again something you know in your heart but is hard to keep in one's head just because they are out there so much- you simply cannot trust the mainstream media to tell you the truth. It is irrational to listen to what they have to say as if it were true because there are too many known instances where they slant it.

One man, one vote still applies the way we do it now, it just applies on a state by state basis. In order to make it apply uniformly, you would not only need to adopt this bill, you would also need to dissolve the US Senate where each state gets two senators regardless of size. I remind you that these two measures- the selection of the President and the selection of Senators, were tilted to slightly favor smaller states because it was a pre-condition for them to join into a United States in the first place. This bill is tantamount to changing the agreement by which they consented to form the U.S. without their consent. Smaller states, of which we are one, will get steam-rolled.

Under this bill, a candidate who won overwhelmingly in California and New York but lost narrowly in 48 other states including this one would get all of Arkansas' electoral votes. Even if one of their campaign promises was to use Arkansas as the radioactive waste dump for the whole nation. Even if they promised to use Arkansans as a food source for California and New York they would get all of Arkansas' electoral votes.

The UNITED STATES is just that, a collection of states who ceded some authority to a central government by mutual consent. Change the weighted influence of the smaller states, and you change the agreement by which the UNITED STATES was formed.


Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

What is listed as "The major shortcoming" of the current system is that presidential candidates concentrate their attention on a handful of "battleground states".

I can't agree that this is a "major shortfall", all political races will look for the swing vote. A candidate for state rep. will try to ID the swing vote and concentrate there. It is not a "shortcoming", it is just the way campaigns are conducted. Why campaign in areas that have already made up their mind for or against?

The fact that a state is not a "battleground" state simply means that the majority have made up their minds. Why is that a problem? It is only a problem, as I noted in the article, if you are a member of the political class and you want a cut of the consulting fees or you are a broadcast station and you want a share of the advertising dollars.

Getting a bigger cut of the gravy for a special interest is not a compelling reason to fundamentally alter the American method of selecting a president.

Candidates have no reason to worry about voter concerns in non-battleground states, but in point of fact the reason they are non-battleground is that one candidate or another has addressed the concerns of the majority of that state's voters so well that the state is already in their column.

The focus on battleground states is a result of better technology and measurement with polling, but technology also allows us more access to information even if the candidate never comes to our state. I don't need Obama to come to our state, I can and did listen to him on the internet- unfiltered, many times. Anyone who wants to know can look it up, play their campaign ads from the website, ect...

This is a non-problem, unless you want to make money as a political consultant or media buyer and you don't live in a battleground state.

Now this does not mean we have to stick to the "winner take all rule" for 48 states. The wider adoption of the less radical change- the Maine-Nebraska rule, puts electoral votes from Congressional districts up for grabs even if a state as a whole is out of reach? Why not advocate for a Maine-Nebraska rule once a majority of states adopt it?

Is it really such a "shortcoming" that the person who does not win the popular vote can win the Presidency, and that changing a few votes in key states in many elections would have changed the outcome.

Again, this is not a problem, it is the way the system is designed to work because our Federal government began as a bargain between sovereign states. The goal is to get broad support over many regions of the country, not overwhelming majorities in four or five big states while losing almost all of the rest of them. It is a system that respects the fact that ours is a big country made up of different regions and cultures.

A complaint that elections are close is again, a sign that the two parties are fielding competitive candidates, not a sign of failure. At least they are competitive relative to one another. I for one would like to see more parties field competitive candidates.

8:33 PM, February 25, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"..that elections are close is again, a sign that the two parties are fielding competitive candidates...

I vehemently disagree. A mere percentage of the vote is insufficient data to arrive at that conclusion.

At least they are competitive relative to one another.

Same thing- it can't be said that they're competitive unless we have a better understanding of the voting patterns.

Nonetheless, I agree that this "fix" will not solve the problem of irrelevant and minuscule differences between candidates.

5:26 PM, February 26, 2009  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

I am not getting your point. Let me clarify mine and see if we are on the same page..........

I consider it a problem that there are only two major party candidates, BUT given that this is the way it currently is, the fact that recent elections have been relatively close rather than one-sided blow outs is not a "problem" that we have to "fix" by end-running the intent of the constitution.

6:09 PM, February 26, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, we're on the same page.

What's amazing is that it's our own state's legislators who are foisting this upon us, not the federal government.

6:18 PM, February 26, 2009  

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