Another One Bites the Dust

Decades of Democratic politicians accepting the role of being the Washington Generals of politics, and generally being spineless cowards have lulled Republican politicians into false confidence in their intelligence. They’ve bought into their own hype about their success being a result of their cleverness and hard work, and not the result of being sellouts to the highest bidder.

How else to explain Republicans continued attempts to dunk on New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez only to be embarrassed when she effortlessly outmaneuvers them? Despite her undefeated record against Fox News, Right-wing twitter, and Republican politicians, they just keep lining up to take un-advised shots at the title, only to end up owning themselves half of the time.

Enter Ted Cruz, Republican Senator from Texas most famous for being a servile lapdog to a man who publicly insulted his wife and slandered his father.

It all started Monday when Ocasio-Cortez posted this tweet lamenting the cost of the buttery, flaky pastries at New York’s LaGuardia Airport:

When AOC tweeted about the high price of airport croissants as compared to the low wages of employees, Cruz thought he saw a perfect chance to score political points.

Fortunately for AOC, Ted Cruz is an idiot:

Not only did he faceplant in making SOCIALISM seem scary, but he even went the extra mile confirming AOC’s point that the GOP doesn’t care about workers. Maybe by backing hikes in the minimum wage so they can earn enough money to buy fancy rolls?

Needless to say, AOC was not put in her place:

It’s Time to Go pt. 2

For the first time in the country’s modern history, the existence of the Electoral College has now become a campaign issue.

Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren recently called for the abolition of the Electoral College, while other Democratic presidential candidates, including former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke and Senator Kamala Harris, have said the Electoral College should be re-evaluated. Whatever that means.

I’ve made my thoughts pretty clear but for the sake of argument; here are four of the most common arguments I’ve noticed, and why they’re wrong.

  1. Electors filter the passions of the people

Some defend the Electoral College by citing its original purpose: to provide a check on the public in case they make a poor choice for president.

Obviously that failed miserably in 2016 and now we have the Childlike Emperor, Lord Dampnut.

Since winner-take-all laws began in the 1820s, electors have rarely acted independently or against the wishes of the party that chose them. A majority of states even have laws requiring the partisan electors to keep their pledges when voting. In presidential elections from 1992 to 2012, over 99 percent of electors kept their pledges to a candidate.

There have been a few scattered faithless electors in past elections, but they’ve never influenced the outcome. Even in 2016, when seven faithless electors broke their pledges, it didn’t move the needle.

  1. It forces candidates to campaign in rural areas

This one’s easy: no it doesn’t.

A popular argument on conservative websites and talk radio is that without the Electoral College, candidates would spend all their time campaigning in big cities and would ignore low-population areas.

In fact, because of the Electoral College, campaigning is generally limited to the urban areas of a handful of states.

Data from the 2016 campaign indicate that 57 percent of general election campaign events for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Mike Pence and Tim Kaine were in only four states: Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Ohio. During the general election campaign, 94 percent of campaign visits by the four candidates were in 12 “battleground” states.

And within these battleground states the candidates focused on campaigning in regions where the most voters lived. In Pennsylvania, for example, 59 percent of Pennsylvania campaign visits by Clinton and Trump in the final two months of the campaign were to the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas, with all other campaign visits going to other cities and their suburbs in the state.

Meanwhile, during the entire period after the 2016 national conventions, the four candidates never once campaigned in 24 states, including rural states like South Dakota, Kansas and Wyoming.

Presidential candidates don’t campaign in rural areas no matter what system is used. Even in the swing states where they do campaign, the candidates focus on urban areas where most voters live.

  1. It prohibits a couple of states or cities from picking the winner

Some claim that the Electoral College prevents one state or prohibits a few cities from determining the winner of the presidential election.

With states, again the truth is the opposite.

Under the current Electoral College system, one state by itself determined the winner of the last presidential election. Without all of Texas’ 38 electoral votes, Trump would have lost the 2016 election. The same thing happened with Florida in 2000. Without its 25 electoral votes, George W. Bush would have lost the election.

Well, he did lose the election but you know what I mean…

Meanwhile, the combined populations of the three largest U.S. cities, New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago, account for less than 5 percent of the country’s population. Their combined metro area populations, including suburbs, are about 13 percent of the U.S. population. It’s not clear how 5 or 13 percent of the population would outvote the rest of the country in a national vote, and that’s assuming every voter in these metro areas votes the same way.

  1. It prevents the chaos of a contested election

Some, including the late historian Theodore H. White, cite the Electoral College as a way to prevent political chaos.

After the 1960 presidential election, John Kennedy’s nationwide share of the popular vote was only 0.17 percentage points higher than Richard Nixon’s share. If there had been the need for a nationwide recount, there could have been weeks or months of political deadlock. Kennedy’s clearer margin of victory in the Electoral College, 303 electoral votes to Nixon’s 219, prevented that.

Fair enough. However, during the 2000 presidential election, the opposite occurred. While Al Gore’s nationwide popular vote victory margin was clear, the number of votes separating Gore from George W. Bush in Florida was minuscule. And because of the Electoral College system, the outcome in Florida became the deciding factor.

After a month of court challenges, a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court ordered the statewide recount be stopped and handed the presidency to Bush. The Electoral College was actually the cause of the chaotic and controversial outcome.

Campaigning on fixing the Electoral College is one thing. But how could it actually be abolished or amended?

Abolishing the Electoral College entirely would require a constitutional amendment involving two-thirds approval from both houses of Congress and 38 states. Given that a Republican has only won the national popular vote one time since the 1988 election, that’s unlikely to succeed. The Republican Party needs the Electoral College, as well as a healthy helpings of voter suppression and gerrymandering, to stay relevant as a national party.

Some advocate that all 50 states adopt Maine and Nebraska’s system of dividing up electoral votes by congressional district. But giving congressional districts a bigger role could lead to an even greater loss of voter confidence, especially in heavily gerrymandered states like Ohio and Wisconsin.

And of course, there’s my preferred solution; The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which  advocates passing legislation at the state level to award electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote instead of the winner of the state popular vote.

Unfortunately, political self-interest seems to be the biggest roadblock to reform. Look no further than Donald Trump. Back in 2012, he tweeted that the Electoral College was “a disaster for democracy.”

By November 2016, after winning the presidential election despite losing the nationwide popular vote to Hillary Clinton, he’d changed his tune.

“The Electoral College,” he tweeted, “is actually genius.”

It’s Time To Go

I used to be a believer in the wisdom of the Electoral College. I thought the intent of the Constitution’s framers was a good one, specifically Alexander Hamilton’s intent to build a procedural roadblock in the path of would-be villains.

Hamilton wrote in Federalist 68 that the Electoral College was intended to obstruct presidential candidates with “talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity,” a pair of traits that should sound familiar to anyone who has followed Donald Trump’s rise to power.

However, the Electoral College utterly failed to live up to this mandate in 2016, allowing Trump to ooze through the cracks despite his obvious lies and criminality, not to mention the fact that he lost the national popular vote by nearly three million votes.

Consequently, I’ve changed my mind. It’s time for the Electoral College to go, and a growing list of states are busily trying to kill it.

The latest state to join the process of killing the Electoral College is Delaware, where the “National Popular Vote Interstate Compact” passed the state legislature and is on its way to the governor’s desk.

This legislation would create an end-around that won’t require amending the Constitution. It would assign each state’s electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, diminishing the existing role of the Electoral College without officially disbanding it. Electors will still pick the president, but electoral votes will be distributed based on the national popular vote rather than each individual state’s popular vote.

The compact will also scramble the way candidates campaign. Contrary to what supporters of the Electoral College might claim, the existing process does not serve to drag the candidates into every state. For example, in 2012, Mitt Romney only campaigned in 10 states.

By granting electoral votes based on the national popular vote, candidates would have to reconsider states that have been otherwise ignored in recent decades. Candidates will be encouraged to campaign in more populated areas that also happen to feature greater demographic variety, encouraging more diversity.

At this point, 13 states and the District of Columbia have signed on to the compact, adding up to a total of 181 electoral votes. Once enough additional states pass the compact to get past the 270 threshold, it will go into effect in all the states where it was passed.

At present, another 16 states worth another 155 electoral votes are considering the compact in committee, or have passed it through at least one chamber of their state legislatures. It’s worth noting though, that none of the states that have fully passed the compact are “red states,” likely because Republican presidential candidates have only won the popular vote once since 1988.

That said, nine states that Trump carried in 2016 are among those where the compact is making its way through the legislative process: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina.

It’s unlikely Trump knows about the popular vote compact, or is even capable of understanding it. If he did, he’d undoubtedly explode in a series of tweets, rants, and maybe even some white supremacist propaganda, lashing out at Democrats who he would insist are rigging the election against him. You know, by winning more votes.

Trump might even use the compact as a pretext to try to invalidate the election if he loses in 2020. That would almost certainly fail, but if Michael Cohen is correct, and I suspect he is, Trump will not allow a peaceful transfer of power if he loses. I don’t think Trump will win in 2020 anyway, his popular support hasn’t been above 45 percent since January of 2017 and his disapproval hovers in the mid-50s. Likely he would us the compact as one of his many justifications for an “unfair” loss in 2020 and he’ll have to be forcefully removed by the Secret Service, or the FBI, or the Sargent at Arms, or whoever it is that would have to do that.

Should be a fun show at least.

Anyway, he’s going to claim that the 2020 election is rigged no matter how the actual electoral votes are allocated. But these reforms aren’t only about him. They’re about sealing the breach before the next Trump (probably Ivanka) steps through it and we start spraying our crops with Brawndo.

Humanoid Turtle Speaks, Doesn’t Understand Irony

Democrats in the House of Representatives are trying to pass HR1, a sweeping anti-corruption and voting rights bill which looks to expand access to ballots, make Election Day a national holiday, and force super-PACs to reveal their donors. As things stand now, it’s unlikely that will become law anytime soon. Republicans still hold power in the Senate and in the White House and at this point, they know that their hold on power rests on keeping as many people from voting as possible.

The Republicans are a minority party, only about 30-40% of the country supports them and probably half of those people only do so because they been told for decades by Fox News and right wing radio that they should hate Democrats. As more and more people are getting wise to the scam that Republican economic policy only benefits the already rich, their support continues to erode.

In response to this, the Republican party has decided to restrict or dilute voting as much as possible. They’ve done this through gerrymandering, voter suppression, and purging. When all else fails they ignore the will of the people by stripping power from incoming administrations of any power to undo their policies. They’ve been trying to do in North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Michigan when recent elections didn’t go their way.

Needless to say, no legislation to expand access to the ballot box is going to make it through the Republican controlled Senate. Senate Majority Leader, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s racist uncle, Mitch McConnell went to the Senate floor earlier this week to (unintentionally) put all of his cards on the table saying:

“Speaker Pelosi and her colleagues are advertising it as a package of urgent measures to save American democracy. What it really seems to be is a package of urgent measures to rewrite the rules of American politics for the exclusive benefit of the Democratic Party.”

McConnell also went on to mock the idea of a national Election Day holiday and slagging on  federal employees over a provision that would give them six extra days of leave if they worked polling places. Suggesting that lazy government “bureaucrats” don’t need any more days off.

Keep in mind that the Senate was only in session for about 160 days last year and McConnell just helped Donald Trump keep the government shut down for 35 days. Forcing may of those government workers to work without pay for over a month.

And he wants to suggest federal workers are lazy? What a scumbag.

Although he is partially right. A federal election holiday would be a power grab. It would allow the people to take back some of the power that the Republicans (and many Democrats) have given to the rich over the last several decades. And in fairness, it would probably benefit the Democrats now that some in the party are beginning to move the party away from the donor class and back toward the citizens.

If the Republicans want to survive as a party, maybe they should follow suit.