Just when you thought we were done with politics for now...
By Gregory Jacobs-Roseman (Composer-Lyricst)
On Monday, Barack Obama was re-inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States of America (well, actually, that officially happened on Sunday, but whatever). It was an historic event. I threw a little party:
We as a nation came together in November, made a decision on which direction to take the country, and in January we affirmed that decision. Because we have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Because we believe in one person, one vote. For now.
This week, on the heels of the inauguration, Republican-led state legislatures in key battleground states have decided to take action to disenfranchise large swaths of the American electorate. They have tried dirty tricks like this in the past, but when voter ID laws, elimination of early voting, extended ballots, limited numbers of voting machines, and the like didn’t work last November, they’ve now turned their sights on the electoral college and have discovered a way to rig the election results so that the popular vote is irrelevant. They propose allocating electoral votes by congressional district, and now winner-takes-all as is currently done in 48 states (Maine and Nebraska already allocate by congressional district).
This could have disastrous results. In key swing states, such as Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan – states that went to Obama twice but have Republican majorities in their state capitols – this is already happening. The effect would give immense power to rural areas and diminish the importance of highly-populated urban areas, areas where minorities and young people tend to congregate – areas that elected Barack Obama.
Here’s what this past election would have looked like if this was how we selected the President:
Romney wins with 273 electoral votes and 47.2% of the popular vote. Obama loses with 262 electoral votes and 51.1% of the popular vote.
The Republicans aren’t even being coy about this. State Senator Charles Carrico, the chief sponsor of the bill in Virginia said in a statement: “It comes down for me, as a rural legislator, to a fairness issue, I’m making sure the people of my district are represented.”
But they ARE represented, Senator. By ONE VOTE EACH. What makes the people in your district more important than the voters of Richmond?
The fact of the matter is that the demographics of America have shifted. Republicans can’t win the votes of women, African Americans, Latinos, the LGBT community, and without this coalition of voters they are, in a word: fucked. The only way forward, as they see it is to rig elections so a rural white vote is far more powerful than an inner-city black one. It’s voter suppression on a massive scale and it could become a reality, because what they’re doing is not illegal.
It’s letter writing time. Time to write to your state representatives and tell them you oppose this little scheme. Especially if you live in the five states I mentioned earlier. Never underestimate the power of a handwritten letter from the constituent of a state senator or assemblyperson. Tell them we know what they’re doing, and it’s wrong.
As it happens, we already have an unfair system, with a vote cast for President in Ohio being far more powerful than one cast in New York. Still, I used to be on the fence about abolishing the electoral college, but now I’m absolutely for it. In America no one should be able to win on a technicality.
GREGORY JACOBS-ROSEMAN is a composer/lyricist and theatrical sound designer currently developing Save The Date: A New Musical Comedy. www.gregjr.com
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