AND THEN, WE DECLARED OURSELVES IRRELEVANT

Los Angeles County is bigger — in population — than at least 40 entire states. Not only does it have a huge population — more than 10 million and counting — it is also physically bigger than the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts and probably more than a few other states. This is because in California, they can (and do) keep making counties and cities bigger and bigger as the population swells. Other places have a thing called “city and county limits,” but California doesn’t. In California, there are no limits.

Because L.A. County is so big, many people declare that the Electoral College is a scam. This presumes that the only criteria for power ought to be size. Population. The bigger you are, the more you should rule. In the non-Electoral College version of the United States, the largest, most densely populated areas would rule the country. Literally rule it.

I understand people who live the big cities might feel that way. In the U.S., our motto has always been “bigger is better.” Businesses. Cities. Schools. Everything. More is better. Less doesn’t count.

The problem is, I think I should count too, no matter how big Los Angeles County gets.

The electoral college is not a scam. It has been grossly mismanaged and misused, but the concept was sound. It has needed a major overhaul for decades and quite possibly longer. The point of having an Electoral College was to prevent Los Angeles, New York, and Texas from overwhelming Worcester County or for that matter, all of New England from Connecticut to Maine.

Do you want to be managed by only the largest cities? In a town like this where we don’t even have a bus or a taxi — or any part of town which could be considered “densely populated” — how likely are we to have similar requirements to Los Angeles? New York? I’m from New York and I love it … but this town has its own needs. The big cities would barely consider Uxbridge worth noticing. Even in Massachusetts, Boston gets the attention. We who live outside the metro Boston area have to beg for scraps. What if Boston itself becomes one of the scraps?Where do we fit in then?

If only huge cities run the nation, what happens to the rest of us? Will anyone notice we’re here? Would anyone care we’re here?

Before everyone jumps on the “ban the Electoral College” bus, maybe you should wonder if the place you live would fit into a world where only big cities have a say in what gets done.

Does the Electoral College need overhauling? Absolutely. But maybe not elimination. The Electoral College isn’t a scam. It’s one more constitutional issue that badly needs repairing. Like so many other things.

40 thoughts on “AND THEN, WE DECLARED OURSELVES IRRELEVANT

  1. You can’t trash elimination of the EC just because a load of people chose to live in a given area. They don’t do it to weigh the vote. If we have a popular vote system it shouldn’t matter where we live. We can’t forget that those living in sparsely populated areas also chose to be there.., and each of their votes would count as each California vote would. Popular vote is a simple majority and there’s no guarantee that everybody in CA, or NY, would vote the same way just because there are more of them.

    The Electoral College, on the other hand, has made much of our vote truly irrelevant.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nor should living in a less populated area make you irrelevant. You live in a big city. I do not. What your city needs, mine doesn’t need or even have any use for, but there are things you’ve got that we don’t have and urgently DO need. The point of the electoral college was to make sure that rural America is not left hanging out to dry. Certainly the Electoral College needs to be fixed so that it much better represents the real population. Right now, it represents almost none of us properly because it is so terribly gerrymandered. That needs fixing — and probably isn’t getting fixed because the GOP has it rigged this year, but the Democrats will rig it to serve their need when they are in power. What really needs fixing is some way to make it fair.

      If you think the EC has made many people’s votes irrelevant, if you get rid of it, entire sections of the country will become irrelevant. Including me. Actually, including ALL of New England and vast majority of the center of the country. The point is to find a balance.

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  2. One of the purposes of the EC is to even out the representation of areas in the Presidential voting system. Los Angeles County and City do have limits — separate limits — with some 88 cities in the county, and numerous unincorporated areas. These cities are widely different in their demographics, and in their voting patterns, and are represented by many different Congressional districts. While I agree with your conclusion, there is not a pattern of all of Los Angeles (or other large cities) voting in a single way.

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    • I’m sure that’s true. The wealthy suburbs of Boston don’t need what the inner city needs … but oddly, even in Boston which isn’t as big, politicians make sure the wealthy parts get what they need and the rest get what is left over. It will NEVER be fair … but if you make it entirely exclusively population, a lot of us will effectively be left out of the system entirely.

      Fair would be nice. I haven’t seen “fair” yet. I’ve been waiting a LONG time for fair.

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      • Agreed that it is not fair. The EC is made up of the total of representatives plus senators from each state. The inclusion of senators in this formula was meant to level the playing field — perhaps it did when the scheme was devised, but with the population spread as it is now, it barely begins to make things level. I definitely agree that change isi appropriate, but would not like to see its elimination — it’s the closest we have to fair at this point.

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        • The problem is and has been that each party in power messes around with the EC. The gerrymandering on BOTH sides is obscene and grossly unjust to minorities and anyone the party in power doesn’t like. But because there are no laws about how to slice and dice the EC, it has been the play thing of both parties since the beginning and it’s a mess.

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    • There has been serious discussion of California seceding from the US since the last Presidential election. It would involve so many issues that it would not be feasible, but it could solve many issues. The current tax bills are considered to be punishment for California and several other states for voting against Trump!

      Liked by 1 person

      • One city in California is larger than Switzerland. It’s bigger than our entire state and possibly bigger than our entire region. It’s really BIG. And there are Californians who think it ought to be a separate country and they have a point. They are functionally a nation already.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I know. I’ve been there. But every state, even much smaller ones, are often substantially different from one area to another. We are 70 miles outside Boston, but we are ridiculously different. I’m sure this is true in most countries, but California as a nation is less different than California as one of 50 states. It’s really amazing that we ARE a country if you think about it.

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  3. I believe the electoral college is used only for presidential elections, which means it’s only relevant once every four years. The problem with the EC is that voters in less populated states have more power to their votes than those in more populated states. The states with the fewest people per electoral vote, and therefore the highest “vote power,” are Wyoming, Vermont, and North Dakota. In Wyoming, there are 143,000 people for each of its three electoral votes. The states with the weakest votes are New York, Florida, and California. These states each have around 500,000 people for each electoral vote. That means that one Wyoming voter has roughly the same vote power as four New York voters. The whole concept of the EC runs counter to the “one man, one vote” concept. The issues your talking about (the needs of your more rural town versus those of a big cities like LA or Manhattan) are what local elections and state elections are (or should be) focused on. But for national elections, why should your vote have more value than mine? Yet that is exactly what the EC does. It creates a greater value to the votes of people who reside in less densely populated states than to those who live in more populous states. That is why I think the electoral college needs to go. Not to be “fixed,” but to be “nixed.” I want every voter in every state to have his or her vote have equal weight in a presidential election. And the only way that can happen is to have the election decided exclusively by the popular vote.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Put that way, without the EC, my vote is worthless. Because the only votes that will swing the election will come from densely populated areas and everyone else can beg for spare change. It can’t go one way OR the other. There has to be a balance. You may not feel much sympathy for people who live in rural America, but they are the guys who feed you. We have our uses, even if we don’t live in your city.

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      • Your vote is not worthless. In fact, because of the EC, your vote is worth more than my vote with respect to the presidential elections. As it is, the voters in less densely populated states are better represented in the Senate, the more important and powerful of the two houses of Congress, than are those in more densely populated states. It’s not a matter of feeling sympathy for those who live in rural areas as much as it is a matter of voter equity. Since the year 2000, there were two men elected to the highest office in the land who did not win the popular vote. Other than for the US president, there are no other elections anywhere in this country — or in any other democracy in the world — where the winner of the popular vote may not win the election. And that is because of the electoral college, which gave us George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump. If after this last presidential election the American democracy survives (and with the way things are going these days, it may not even make it to 2020), the electoral college has got to go!

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        • They also gave us Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. I vote too, you know. We’re pissed off NOW because it didn’t go the way it should have and it was never supposed to be this lopsided. But don’t throw out all past babies with current bathwater. And Garry and I have been watching a lot of stuff lately. This mess is not out of the blue. It may seem that way, but we’ve been building towards this humiliating “climax” for a very long time. Probably since the Civil War, but by 2012, this outcome was “in the cards” and NOT because of the EC, but because we have yet to deal with fascism, hatred, inequality, and a huge growing internal division. We are where we have been heading and it is horrible.

          If we get it back, are we ready to do better? What does this mean?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Bill Clinton and Barack Obama won the popular vote. So did Al Gore and Hillary Clinton, but neither became president. I agree with what you said about where we have been heading as a country, but it’s because of the EC that Bush and Trump won their respective elections. Not because more Americans voted for them, but because they got more votes in just a few key states. And that’s the fault of the electoral college.

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            • And the EC did not interfere with it. There IS more to governing than raw numbers. I know you don’t like it. I sometimes don’t like it either and I certainly hate it THIS TIME around. But there was a reason it was created and that reason has not stopped existing. If ONLY the big cities have the power to decide what and who occupies the white house, it will be a lopsided as this idiotic victory has been. Changing the constitution — fundamentally changing it — from a constitutional republic to a one vote per voter democracy will alter a lot of things in more ways than you realize. It would leave rural state without any leverage at all.

              Do you like to eat? Do you think farmers have a right to sit at the table? And what if all those powerful city voters swing in another direction which does NOT suit you at all?

              I find myself commenting as many have before: Be careful what you wish for. You might just get it.

              Liked by 2 people

              • I think, if you want to keep the EC, the “winner take all” electors in most states should be replaced by a proportional distribution of each state’s electors based upon the popular vote in each state. That might be the only way to save the electoral college, which was originally established as a compromise between electing the president by a vote in Congress and electing on by popular vote.

                Liked by 1 person

                • That IS the way it is supposed to work, but the gerrymandering by whichever party is in power has turned it into something else. When it was inserted in the Constitution, no framework was set up to manage the Electoral College … and thus it has become a kind of political football. Whoever is in power does whatever suits them. There are no laws and no central authority to keep anyone honest.

                  The way it is set up, Congress will NEVER get rid of it. It’s too useful to whoever is in power. Right now, it’s the GOP, but next it could easily be the Demos … and they won’t want it gone, either.

                  Remember too that the EC is the thing that defines this country as a Constitutional Republic rather than a Democracy, so removing it is not merely cancelling an amendment. This is a fundamental part of the Constitution and one of the defining issues that makes this country what it is. You could cancel the second amendment — it’s an AMENDMENT. You can’t cancel the nation’s structure just like that leaving nothing where there was something. This really IS complicated.

                  It ought to be federally managed and there should be laws guaranteeing an accurate — FAIR — assessment of population, not twisted into knots to add or subtract specific populations one party or the other likes or doesn’t like. But I don’t see it happening. We haven’t seen ANY kind of constitutional management since the Civil Rights Amendment. There doesn’t seem to be a will to fix anything. No one is ready to take a risk.

                  When Johnson pushed through the Civil Rights Amendment, he effectively fell on his sword to get it done. He knew it, too. It was not an accident. But he felt that this was SO critical to getting this country on the right track, it was worth it.

                  Who do we have these days who would take any kind of risk to accomplish something important? Anyone?

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Well, it may be moot. So far 28 state houses have indicated they would support a new constitutional convention, and most of them are red states. So it’s just a matter of time before the US is transformed into an autocratic theocracy. Sad!

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      • News Flash! our votes ARE worthless, anyway, due to the EC, and is the farthest thing from “One Person, One Vote.” The EC can’t be fixed. Its whole premise is way out of date because it no longer works, gerrymandering or not. We need to move towards true representation of the individual vote. The issues you bring up are best dealt with on a state by state, and local, level and not during a national election for president where you only vote for one of two major candidates (others be hanged these days). At least our vote would actually be counted even if we had to pick the lesser of two questionable choices.

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  4. Maybe later I’ll Google what the “electoral college” is 🙂
    I think about a sixth/seventh of the entire UK population live in Greater London. It keeps grabbing parts of neighbouring counties so that parts of them become “London boroughs”.

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    • Yup. And that is why London “owns” the economy. That is what happens when population is the single guidance for the system. It’s “fair” … but it isn’t really because not everyone lives there and the biggest voting block gets the most money — or at least the BEST money. The RICH parts of London and suburbs get the best money. The poor parts? Not so much. The outlying areas? What are they?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. If LA ruled the country, we would have universal health care. If LA rule the country, even my little impoverished half dead town would have better infrastructure and social services. I get your point, and maybe an overhaul is the answer, but if the big cities controlled the vote in this recent election, we also would not have been contending with what we’re contending with now. I think there’s something to be said for the bottom line in a situation like this and I don’t think the needs of people in a big city are all that different from my needs here in Monte Vista.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not going to argue that the system worked this time, but it has worked before. And when the big cities WERE running things, we did NOT get universal health care or infrastructure or ANY of the things you list because the people who want those things were not running the country. Bck in Congress, the same horse’s asses will still be taking the same bribes from the same conglomerate moguls from whom they are currently taking them.

      Now — if you get the big corporate MONEY out of elections, then we might see progress. We also might see better candidates who actually want to make life better for constituents. Until that happens, which I foresee as “never” on my long-term calendar, it’s just going to be some version of the “same old, same old.”

      Recently, we started watching an older Amazon series called “Alpha House” which is a comedy about a bunch of Republican senators sharing a house in DC. If you’ve got Amazon Prime, it’s free … and as we have been watching it — it was made 5 years ago — you will see ALL the problem we have now on stems, big fat ugly buds, waiting to flower.

      In 2016, the flowers opened.

      Trump was no accident. He was inevitable. We have been working on this disaster for at least 150 years and now, we are living in it. Today’s politics are yesterday’s “political jokes.” But they aren’t funny.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I will not get into a discussion on politics with anyone but my wife. And even that I’d like to avoid. But I will say that it is possible we would not have the same president as now if there were no electoral college. But then we would have Hillary. And big money would still be king!

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    • This mess we are in didn’t start with the last election. It has been building for at least the past 50 years and we have refused to look at it. The EC isn’t the problem. The people are the problem. Racism is the problem. The fact that both political parties are fueled by money from conglomerates who expect payback — and get it. Which mega super money guys will back the right party? Tune in and see! During this past year, I have been growing increasingly aware that we are fighting NOW the same battles we thought we won 50 years ago. But we didn’t win them. We stuffed all the bad stuff in a closet … or threw a rug over that mess on the floor.

      It’s still a mess, but now we have the Chief Mess as our head of state and we can’t stick our heads in the closet or throw another rug over that pile of crap in the corner. We need to do some structural reorganizing of how we DO things in this country. As it stands, fair is the one thing we aren’t going to get. We may LIKE one side better than another and one side would definitely be less disgusting than the other … but fair? Honest? in office to serve our needs? I’m thinking … NOT.

      Liked by 1 person

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