Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Jan 27, 2013 in Politics | 3 comments

Quote of the Day: The Virginia GOP’s Desperate Power Grab

Our political quote of the Day comes from The Daily Beast’s John Avlon on “The Virginia GOP’s Desperate Power Grab.” Here’s how he begins his post:

Something’s rotten in Virginia.

Conservatives in the Old Dominion state legislature are quietly plotting what could amount to an electoral coup d’etat: pushing forward a bill that would have delivered the majority of the state’s electoral votes to Mitt Romney, days after erasing a Democratic state senate district in a surprise mid-session redistricting.

In the wake of their decisive 2012 election defeat, Republicans aren’t digging the demographic changes making once safe states like Virginia go for Obama the last two presidential elections. Their response, as Michael Tomasky detailed yesterday, is to try and change the rules to allow electoral votes to be split up by congressional districts, compounding their advantage created by the rigged system of redistricting. In many of the states – Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio – this is at the level of legislative discussion rather than action.

But in Virginia, facing a gubernatorial election this year, Republicans have gone much further than talk – they’ve put forward an actual bill for a vote. Their goal is to shift power back to conservative rural districts, splitting electoral votes by congressional districts and then allocating the two extra votes set aside for senate seats to be awarded not by popular vote but by who won the highest number of congressional districts. Slate’s Dave Weigel, who was early to this story, calculated that if the proposed legislation were applied to the last presidential election, Mitt would have carried 9 electoral votes and Obama just 4, despite winning the state by 150,000 votes. If it were enacted in all the proposed swing states, President Romney would be in office today despite President Obama winning the popular vote by more than 5 million.

This is an inversion of the basic principle of democracy: that elections are won by the candidate who gets the most votes.

To add insult to the intended injury, Virginia humorist and political blogger Paul Bibeau pointed out that the bill would have the effect of making Obama voters count as three-fifths of a person. God, or someone, has a sense of historic humor.

And he ends it this way:

I’m an advocate of election reform and think the electoral college has probably outlived its usefulness. But this particular “reform” – built squarely on the rigged system of redistricting – would only create further separation between the popular vote and who is elected president.

It is also telling that conservatives opposed just such a reform in 2004, when Colorado had a ballot initiative that would have put forward proportional allocation of electoral votes. As ThinkProgress recently culled from the archives, then-Colorado Governor Bill Owens penned an USA OpEd calling it a “transparently partisan movement” while a conservative group organized to call itself “Coloradans Against a Really Stupid Idea.”

Situational ethics are rampant in hyper-partisan politics, but this proposal is a perversion of political reform – transparently cynical and self-interested. It is the mark of a desperate party trying to rig the election results to stay in power for as long as it can. If Republicans want to remain competitive in swing states, they should work harder to reach out beyond their conservative populist base. These sordid proposals are nothing more than a scam and a scheme with the American people as the intended mark and the White House as the glittering prize.

There’s a lot more — so go to the link and read it in its entirety.