Two Simple Fixes

Two issues contribute to the decline of democracy in the U.S. Fortunately there are simple, common sense solutions for both. That’s unusual in this complicated world, and I hope you’ll share them:

The first concerns the outdated and increasingly unfair Electoral College. Instituted initially as a compromise to get the less populated slave-holding states onboard with a federal government, it was never a good bargain, and is now one that has significantly outlived its usefulness. Twice in the last 16 years, we have elected a president who lost the popular vote. That must never happen again.

A Constitutional amendment as a remedy is a tortuous and slow process that has a very slim chance of success. A simpler solution is the initiative to get states to adopt a law that forces its electors to match the will of the people by casting their votes for the winner of the popular vote in that state. Of course, the less populated states will not go along, but we really only need the swing states, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, and Virginia, for instance, to bow to popular will and enforce a real democratic election process.

The second issue is gerrymandering. The redrawing of State and U.S. Congressional districts has historically been “winner-take-all,” and it has never been pretty. Both sides have used the power of redistricting to feather their own nests, but sophisticated, big-data-crunching software changed everything beginning with the 2000 census. (One of the purposes of the census taken at the beginning of each decade is supposed to be the recalculation of populations to ensure that districts are balanced at about 700,000 voters each.)

Before conservative leaders squawk that this is a subversive Democratic plot, please note that in California, where independent redistricting is now a fact of life, it was Nancy Pelosi, the right’s favorite Blue Meanie, who led the opposition, since it was the Dems who had the most to lose. Politicians cannot be trusted to do the right thing. They have vested interests in the outcome.

The nonpartisan government watchdog, Common Cause (full disclosure, I am Chair of Common Cause Georgia) led that effort, as well as the efforts in the other eleven states that have taken the power of redistricting out of the states’ legislatures’ hands. Simply put, we are trying to restore to the people that which is rightfully theirs. Currently, representatives pick their voters. It is time to return to a democratic process where voters pick their reps. Visit CommonCause.org to see more detail and learn where your state falls in this important battle.

We are living through a moment in history that should make it plain to all that freedom isn’t free and democracy isn’t impervious to the devious plans of those who seek political advantage. Granted, staring at our smartphones, watching Netflix, and playing video games is more fun, but if we’ll invest a tiny portion of our time in educating ourselves about these troubling issues and their simple fixes,  we’ll all rest easier.

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2 Responses to “Two Simple Fixes”

  1. Paul Zullo Says:

    Hi Jon, with our current system, in most states, pledged electors give all the electoral votes to the winner of that states popular vote. I believe a number of states are going to a system that awards all of that states electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. If enough of the larger states had adopted that system in 2000 & 2016 we would have avoided those disasters. Take Care PZ

  2. jonsinton Says:

    An important clarification. It’s the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, and it deserves our support. Thanks, Paul.

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