Remember when Virginia’s Republicans managed to sneak that nasty electoral college ‘reform’ law through their equally-divided senate … while their Democratic colleague was attending Barack Obama’s second inauguration? Probably not. Like Virginia State Senator Henry Marsh — a long-time civil rights activist — most of us were focused on January 21st’s historic event as well.
Now that Barack Obama’s won the presidency two times in a row, the GOP suddenly seems disgusted with the electoral college. Many Americans agree, since this system seems like such an antiquated, complicated, and inscrutable way to choose our president. Yet, for the majority of our country’s history, the electoral vote has coincided with the popular vote. The most recent, and notable, exception was back in 2000 … and we all know how badly THAT turned out. Oddly enough, Republicans didn’t seem nearly as upset with the Electoral College’s results back then as they do now.
Virginia State Senator Charles “Bill” Carrico introduced an electoral college ‘reform’ bill that proposed to represent sparsely-populated, rural districts more “fairly” by awarding electoral votes proportionally by districts, instead of giving the entire state’s votes to the candidate that wins the popular vote. This seems reasonable, until you consider how his GOP-sponsored proposal ignores population density. The majority of Americans live in cities, and the majority of urban voters vote Democratic. Gee, no wonder Republicans want to be “fair” all of a sudden. This law would basically obliterate the popular vote.
This is just a small part of the GOP’s long-time strategy (code-named “RedMaps“) for (1) funding low-profile, state-level elections in 2008-2010 to gain control of state legislatures in swing states like Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin; (2) using control of state legislatures to redraw legislative district maps for state and national elections — thereby ensuring that Republicans will always win, and hence be disproportionately represented in their state legislatures, and in the US House of Representatives; and (3) using the gerrymandered district maps to force changes in how the Electoral College elects our president … especially in crucial swing states like Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Republicans chortled with glee while Democrats braced themselves for a post-“RedMaps” world … until everything totally exploded in the GOP’s face. Suddenly the world woke up and realized that Virginia got caught red-handed in the election-rigging cookie jar, and they ain’t looking so good. Finally — as reported by the Washington Post‘s “Virginia Politics” blog — Virginia’s Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections “voted to bypass the bill indefinitely.” Who can blame them? That thing would’ve been a mother lode for civil-rights lawsuits in waiting.
When Carrico turned to Senate colleagues who had proposed similar legislation in the past for support in propping up his doomed legislation, Chap Petersen snarkily replied, “Do you support all of my bad ideas?”
Suddenly, the on-the-fence Republican swing-state governors abruptly jumped OFF the fences they were sitting on, at least when it came to “RedMaps” legislation. Ever since ProgressVirginia pronounced Virginia’s Senate Bill 723 to be deader than a doornail by the Virgina Senate’s Privileges and Elections Committee, Republican governors from other states don’t want to be seen anywhere NEAR the danged thing.
Melissa Harris-Perry scornfully reports from MSNBC that in response to constituents’ disapproval and disgust for these tactics, Ohio’s GOP Governor John Kasich and Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder have suddenly discarded any “open-minded” feelings they may have once harbored about their party’s “RedMaps” plan. If Carrico’s electoral college ‘reform’ plan had gone into effect for the 2012 election, President Obama’s 51% popular majority votes in the state of Virginia would have only gotten him four out of 13 electoral votes.
This effectively would have amounted to a reprise of the pre-Civil War era’s 3/5ths compromise, under which each disenfranchised African American slave counted as three-fifths of a person … but only to ensure that southern state slave owners would be disproportionately represented in Congress. After all, slaves weren’t allowed to vote.
Here’s Harris-Perry’s video:
|Elisabeth Parker is a writer, Web designer, mom, political junkie, and dilettante. Come visit her at ElisabethParker.Com, “like” her on facebook, or follow her on Twitter. For more articles by Elisabeth, click here.|