RURAL LIFE AND THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE – Marilyn Armstrong

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 — but it is physically bigger than the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Probably physically larger than a few other states, too — like Rhode Island and Deleware.

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 population density. In a pure democracy, which the U.S. isn’t, that would theoretically be true.

In fact, almost no country is a pure democracy. In most parliamentary countries, you are not voting for individuals but a party platform so even though a very unpopular government can be brought down for a new election, who actually represents you? It’s up to the party. If we think party politics is totally nuts in this country, trust me, it’s wacko most other places too.

In the U.S., we believe in bigger is better. Take away the Electoral College and the largest, most densely populated areas would rule the country. Is that good or bad?

I suppose that depends on whether you agree with whoever wins and whether or not you believe they are going to address your local issues.

I understand people who live in big cities will definitely feel they get cheated by the electoral college because it’s intended as a field-leveling tool. It’s not democratic and it’s not supposed to be. But, in the U.S., our motto has always been “bigger is better.” Whether it’s businesses, cities, schools or whatever — we like’em big. More always wins while less doesn’t count.

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

The electoral college is not a scam. It has been grossly mismanaged and misused, but the concept is sound. It has needed a massive, non-political overhaul for a very long time. As a result of gerrymandering and political chicanery, it may finally be obsolete, but that’s because we’ve turned it into yet one more political football. If we lost the electoral college, what will be the next political football? I’m sure we’ll find one.

If we want to retain the concept of being a “Constitutional Republic,” we need a better way to count votes. We also need more votes from more people in more places. We need a fully voting population of at least 50% because otherwise, how can we claim that most people are represented when most people don’t vote at all?

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.

In a town like this where we don’t even have a bus or a taxi, how likely are we to have similar requirements to Los Angeles or New York or even Boston? I’m from New York and I love it, but this town has different needs. Large cities would barely consider Uxbridge worth noticing. Even in Massachusetts, Boston and its nearby suburbs get most of the attention — and the money. The rest of us in more rural areas — actually rural is most of the Commonwealth — we beg for scraps.

What if Boston itself becomes one of the scraps? Where do we fit in then?

If only big cities run everything, what happens to small towns? Will anyone notice we’re here? Would anyone care we’re here? I’m not sure anyone cares now, so are rural areas officially obsolete?

We don’t even make it into the weather reports.

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 seem to have a say in what gets done.

Does the Electoral College need overhauling? Absolutely. But maybe not elimination. It isn’t a scam. It is, however, a major constitutional issue that urgently needs repairing. It was never supposed to be a political tool — for either party. Like so many other parts of our government, it is being used for purposes for which it was never intended. Kind of like the Senate and maybe, the Supreme Court. And the presidency.

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.