Open Forum: ‘Galloping herds’ aside

Posted: February 4, 2013

The stampede is on. There is no hope of analyzing, only visceral suspicion and emotion will rule the day on this idea. And it is the Republicans’ fault for trying to pass a law in a sneaky, underhanded way. One might say that also about the Affordable Care Act (what with the Cornhusker Kickback, the waivers for Cadillac health plans for the unions), or the passing of the 13th Amendment (you saw the “Lincoln” movie), or any number of laws that get passed in the sausage-making of legislatures.

The idea that won’t get a rational hearing? One Congressional District. One Electoral Vote. Better than Winner-Take-All? Why? Republican voters in California might as well stay home. Same goes for a Democrat voter in Oklahoma.

We yak about voter apathy? Yet we hold righteous outrage towards any attempt to undo the effects of the Winner-Take-All system that creates this apathy? A city like Philadelphia can dominate a whole state, thus making useless each vote in each congressional district in Pennsylvania, and making it useless for a candidate to even visit the state, or interact with that state’s voters, or even be influenced by that state’s voters. Most states are ignored for this reason. Most states and, in particular, the districts within that state are ignored because of the Winner-Take-All system.

Nebraska since 1996 and Maine since 1972 have been doing this proportionate idea for years without a lot of fuss. Obama would have restructured his campaign to grab a Kansas City electoral vote, a point missed by a CNN website showing who would have won. This site, of course, doesn’t factor a change in a campaign’s attention. Romney would have won an electoral vote in California.

Contrary to Winner-Take-All, or Direct Popular vote, these citizens would have their vote count, a visit by the campaign, and a chance to influence the candidate. This would have the effect of blending and compromising more than it would the polarization and apathy both Winner-Take-All and Direct Election gives you.

But, hold on, before you tune out. There’s more. Ginsu knives, you ask? A Ronco toaster oven? NO. Hold on before you join the stampede of the herd you run with. Wait? Oh, no. The Democratic herd has already stampeded. They won’t hear any of this above the noise of their own herd.

Their suspicions rightfully aroused? Yes. Wait, one of them peeled off from the stampede and is looking around. This lone bull looks back at me and asks, “But what about Direct Election of the President?” Well, there is that idea where states will throw all of their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote. Wonderful this is at first glance. But! Do you realize no Parliamentary system has direct election of their Prime Minister?

This Direct Election of the President would be unique. And it would continue the perfidy of the Winner-Take-All system in that only the urban centers would have all of the candidates’ attention. States and, more importantly, many congressional districts will have no influence on the candidate and be ignored by the campaigns.

The buffalo who left the herd thinks about this, does a Homer Simpson blink, then says, “Well, why is that bad for the urban centers to dominate the process? That’s where the people are. Sheeesh. Snort.”

I have an answer, but my herd is starting to stampede away, having given up its direction of going forward with One Congressional District, One Electoral Vote. I raise my index hoof to indicate a response coming, but that lone buffalo who decided to think through the issue, got impatient, and, more importantly, suspicious, joined his herd still stampeding.

Now, hearing the distant thunder of the two herds running away from each other, I survey the field bereft of bull, you might say. No bull, yes, but byproduct fuming up this desolate field? Yes. Always I get in trouble with metaphors, despite how rank they are.

I leave you with this: Direct Elections for “Prime Alpha Bull/Cow” are unknown in parliamentary democracies for a reason, and, with Winner-Take-All, you will get further polarization and apathy along with that occasional Popular Vote Loser. Whole areas of the country will be ignored by both systems. Also by law, each congressional district must contain an equal population.

No bull. No bull byproduct. Let the debate re-ignite. Bull byproduct can burn! Snort. Still having trouble with metaphors. Bring on the galloping herds!

James C. Moyer is a resident of Winchester.