A Progressive Alamedan

Various writings from a resident of Alameda regarding the political scene. The local perspective of local, state and national politics and a few other odds and ends of local concern. May not be particularly interesting to people outside of the Alameda area.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The scam, the heist, the robbery, the fraud...

Update: Apparently this initiative is dead! Hooray!

Last week, I was invited last-minute to a meeting between two or three dozen politically active citizens and Art Torres (chair of the California Democratic Party) and Howard Dean (chair of the Democratic National Committee). Given the opportunity to contribute to grassroots input to these two large institutions, I jumped at the chance. (Well, I BARTed, actually.)

The meeting was to kick off a campaign to stop what is being called the "Steal the State" plot, the "Dirty Tricks", etc. I thought I'd share the issue here just to help make sure that the three readers of this blog are aware of it.

In the current system of electing presidents, the electoral college means that each state is "winner take all", meaning that Presidents are not chosen by popular vote, but by electoral votes. Some states (Florida, Ohio, Nevada, etc.) could go either way each time, and are thus the battleground states; some (like California) are solidly "blue" states, meaning that all of their electoral votes tend to go to the Democratic candidate; some states (like Texas) are solidly "red" states, and all their votes tend to count toward the Republican candidate.

This system sucks.

And the Republicans have found another way to try and hijack the Presidential elections, by proposing a way to deal with this. They are circulating petitions in California, under the guise of "reform", that would change California's allocation of electoral college votes to be proportional by congressional district, rather than winner-take-all for the state.

The sneaky thing about this is that on first glance, this looks like a rather fair thing to do. Except that, please note, there is not a corresponding initiative taking place in, say, Texas, or other "Red" states.

This is, in effect, unilateral disarmament. If California were to pass this initiative, it would be handing 22 electoral votes to the Republian nominee on a silver platter.

What a windfall for the Republicans. You would think they would be united behind this sneaky trick, but apparently not. The conservative Orange County Register said "A proposed change, which could be on next June's ballot, in the way California's votes are allocated in the presidential election might have a sheen of fairness, but it is nakedly partisan and profoundly subversive of our constitutional system." Or Republican Governor said "I feel like, if you're all of a sudden in the middle of the game start changing the rules, it's kind of odd… It almost feels like a loser's mentality, saying, 'I cannot win with those rules. So let me change the rules.'"

Hopefully enough people are aware of this scam that they will not even sign the petition — I heard that some of these were being circulated around Oakland and the UC Berkeley campus, though I suspect most petition-gatherers are standing outside of Wal-marts in "red" counties around the state for maximum Republican pick-up.

And let's support true, nation-wide electoral reform that fixes the underlying problems fairly.


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