The longest-serving Congressman in US history proposes a four fixes for American democracy


#61

THe federal government cannot eliminate state winner-take-all laws.

The National Popular Vote bill is based on Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, which gives each state legislature the right to decide how to appoint its own electors. Unable to agree on any particular method for selecting presidential electors, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method exclusively to the states in Article II, Section 1

“Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors….”

The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive."


#62

The population of the top five cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia) has been only 6% of the population of the United States.

Voters in the biggest cities in the US have been almost exactly balanced out by rural areas in terms of population and partisan composition.

16% of the U.S. population lives outside the nation’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas. Rural America has voted 60% Republican. None of the 10 most rural states matter now.

16% of the U.S. population lives in the top 100 cities. They voted 63% Democratic in 2004.
The population of the top 50 cities (going as far down as Arlington, TX) is only 15% of the population of the United States.

The rest of the U.S., in suburbs, divide almost exactly equally between Republicans and Democrats.

Being a constitutional republic does not mean we should not and cannot guarantee the election of the presidential candidate with the most popular votes. The candidate with the most votes wins in every other election in the country.

Guaranteeing the election of the presidential candidate with the most popular votes and the majority of Electoral College votes (as the National Popular Vote bill would) would not make us a pure democracy.

Pure democracy is a form of government in which people vote on all policy initiatives directly.

Popular election of the chief executive does not determine whether a government is a republic or pure democracy.

The presidential election system, using the 48 state winner-take-all method or district winner method of awarding electoral votes used by 2 states, that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers. It is the product of decades of change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by states of winner-take-all or district winner laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution

The Constitution does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for how to award a state’s electoral votes

Starting with the Supreme Court’s 1962 decision in Baker v. Carr and culminating in 1964 with the case of Reynolds v. Sims, the value of “One person, one vote,” once brought to light, seemed so profoundly rooted in the Constitution its practice became “inevitable.”

There is nothing in the Constitution that prevents states from making the decision now that winning the national popular vote is required to win the Electoral College and the presidency.


#63

But … why shouldn’t less populous states be irrelevant? 'Wyoming" isn’t a protected class, any more than “red hair” is.

It’s a serious question. Regardless of how the voting is counted everyone still gets the same federally mandated rights and responsibilities, Congress and the Senate still have the responsibility for sticking up for minorities (which does actually kinda work - see same-sex marriage for a recent example). Apart from historical inertia, there is no plausible reason why the states of Wyoming or Vermont (popn approx 600k ea.) should have more influence that the cities of Baltimore or Milwaukee (popn approx. 600k ea) … or indeed any of the other 30 cities which are larger than that.


#64

Because empowering them disproportionately in the senate was the deal at the founding of the nation. Individual components of compromises never look perfect when viewed from one side. It’s the ‘whole’ that is the point of our bicameral system of government, and why it’s set up to be so difficult to change.


#65

Ok, so historical inertia is all you’ve got then?


#66

Just kick them out then. Or, really the reverse, leave them behind. Form a new nation, with the populous states leaving the current country and forming the new one.

That’s effectively the same thing as making them irrelevant.

At least it’s mostly the same. It would leave them to their own devices and own management instead of being subject the whims of the more populated areas. It would actually be more fair than making them irrelevant.

At some level, all government/politics is local and has local impacts. Taking away all local control from an area because it’s happens to have less people isn’t a good plan. The entire point of the Congress is to have one body that’s skewed toward population distribution and one that’s skewed toward the independent states. Changing that to favor one side or the other will have all kinds of ramifications and should be taken carefully. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done, just that it should be done carefully and with thought and perspective for goals trying to be achieved.


#67

The problem, which you stoically fail to appreciate, is that control has already been taken away, and control is already skewed, and already favours one side. And it wasn’t done carefully or with thought or with any perspective or with any goals. But the current situation certainly favours one side and apparently they’ll be fucked if they’re going to do what’s right.


#68

Right, which is why having the Senate vote with the House is the more realistic option.

It’s been a couple of centuries since they punted on that one. After seeing how poorly this worked out since then, a push for national standards is in order. If the federal government said “you can do winner-take-all, but we’re going to assign whatever electors you choose proportional to your state’s popular vote in the final count” it would lead to an interesting court challenge that would at the very least open up the discussion and perhaps lead to an amendment most states would probably sign on with. [to be clear I don’t think this has close to a shot of passing a Constitutional test with this SCOTUS, but nice to think about]

At the heart of the matter, any way one looks at it, is a divide not between low-population states and high-population ones but between city and country. In an increasingly urbanised country, the broken Electoral College is again and again betraying the majority of citizens.


#69

I’m not ignoring it at all. I didn’t say the current system is perfect or can never change, or must stay the way it is or that less populous states should have all the power.

What I’m saying is, the original system had specific goals. I’m all for examining how those goals are achieved, and making adjustments.

I’m not for just saying the system sucks, here’s a fix, so what if it screws half the people they were already screwing us, it’s time they get theirs. Plus those original goals are garbage now, because.

I understand no issue can have nuance anymore and we can’t talk about what goals we want to achieve. It’s all just “fix it, fix it, fix it” and if you don’t agree with the fix, even if we’ve got no idea what harm the fix does while hopefully helping solve something maybe or if the harms are worse than the benefit, then you must be wrong.

I believe the goal of trying to balance influence of the densely populated areas vs the sparsely populated areas is a good one. That neither group should be able to bully and push around the other group. The current system had this as a goal. That it’s no longer working and allowing the sparsely populated areas an unbalanced influence is a problem. I don’t believe the answer is to switch and allow the densely populated areas unbalanced influence instead. A balance is preferred.

Much like we wouldn’t want a mine upstream from a city to poison the water flowing into the city. Voted to be legal if the sparse upstream town has too much power and it saves a dollar. What do they care, it’s downstream of their water. We also wouldn’t want the densely populated city to turn a small town into garbage dump, just because there are more of them and it’s cheaper to just push all the garbage to the edge of town in a pile. Some balance that limits these two impacts is required.


#70
  1. It’s not half the people. It’s more like 1 in 70.^
  2. They aren’t screwed: everyone still gets the same federally mandated rights and responsibilities
  3. They aren’t screwed: Congress and the Senate still have the responsibility for sticking up for minorities (which does actually kinda work - see same-sex marriage for a recent example)
  4. They aren’t screwed: Wyoming and the rest can still elect whatever retrograde and hateful lawmakers they want … at the state level.

I understand no issue can have nuance anymore

Says the guy whose first response was "fuck it, if I can’t dictate to the majority imma take my ball and leave the country! :tired_face: "

^ counting DE + SD + ND + AK + VT + WY


#71

The GOP controls the senate at the moment, and enjoy an advantage in close presidential elections, but controlling all 3 branches is actually relatively rare. You do know that up til 1994 the Democrats held the House for 40 straight years? How do you think the GOP felt about that? If (and that’s to be seen) the trend is for the Senate to be GOP and the House Democratic, perhaps the parties would be forced to the table to negotiate what’s best for the nation, as the system was designed to do, instead of whatever party has both houses steamrolling the other.


#72

Right from the article, 30%. More like 1 in 3 not 1 in 70.
Also from the article, making up 35 of 50 states.
So almost a third of people in 70% of the states, all irrelevant without some form of representation that isn’t solely based on population.

Those federally mandated rights are determined by the people in the government. Eliminate all the influence of those 30% of people, and they’ll have no influence on determining those rights. Just look at all of history for examples of how this works and how hard it is to change.

This is the issue. The way Congress and the government in general is held accountable for representing people is by representing people. Eliminate all the influence of those 30% of people, and with no accountability, there will be no responsibility. You can believe they’re just nice and will represent them. But, in this very thread, even you, have said Wyoming should be irrelevant. Again, you can look to all of history to see how well government without representation has worked out for different groups.

So they get to be state that the rest of the union just puts in a corner and doesn’t listen too? That doesn’t sound like being part of the union at all. See Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and the rest of the territories with no representation for how well this is working out for them.

I’m not sure where you got that at all. You were the one that said Wyoming, and those 30% of people in the less populated states should be irrelevant. To which I replied, that’s logically the same as saying you’ll form a country without them. It’s actually even worse, since without forming a different country, you’ll just disenfranchise all of them instead.


#73

100% agreed.


#74

Rhetoric - how the fuck does that work? :roll_eyes:

‘irrelevant’ was your word, which I deliberately used to tie back to your statement and to highlight the fallacy at the centre of your argument^. The voters in those states would clearly NOT be irrelevant, as I have illustrated. They should not, however, be super relevant.

^ i.e., you proposed a false-dilemma


#75

Except that the GOP, as shown in the latter half of Obama’s term in office, was perfectly happy to let the government, and the country, go to shit. Just obstruct EVERYTHING. Hold the government itself hostage in order to, like a toddler, GET WHAT I WANT NOW! There was no compromise. They have literally broken the Senate in order to turn it into a gun to the head of the country. Do what they want or the country dies!

Fuck that, sideways.


#76

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