ALL IN

Posted in Quick Hits on February 13th, 2013 by Ed

The highlight of the State of the Union happened as Obama said:

We must all do our part to make sure our God-given rights are protected here at home. That includes our most fundamental right as citizens: the right to vote. When any Americans – no matter where they live or what their party – are denied that right simply because they can't wait for five, six, seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals. That's why, tonight, I'm announcing a non-partisan commission to improve the voting experience in America. And I'm asking two long-time experts in the field, who've recently served as the top attorneys for my campaign and for Governor Romney's campaign, to lead it. We can fix this, and we will. The American people demand it. And so does our democracy.

Over his left shoulder, John Boehner sat motionless while a perfunctory applause break followed. Of course we know by now that making it harder to vote is the core of what can only generously be called the "strategy" of the modern Republican Party.

For the past few weeks, Republican-controlled state legislatures in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Virginia, and Michigan have been making noise about trying to change the distribution of Electoral College votes to a congressional district system, as is used in Maine and Nebraska. A congressional district plan favors the GOP, of course, because the districts were heavily rigged by Republican state legislatures in the wake of their strong year in 2010. That's how your party manages to win a majority in the House while losing the congressional popular vote nationwide by a healthy margin. In other words, they have the power to rig the system thanks to previous instances of rigging the system.

It's clear with these proposals – regardless of whether they succeed – that the GOP is going "all in" on rigging the system in their favor, having apparently come to grips with the reality that it might be the only way they can win elections anymore. They have nothing else. Their lack of appeal was displayed in high relief on Tuesday night as even one of their charismatic members turned in an awkward, incoherent mess of a performance in responding to the SOTU. I can only imagine how much of this shit we're going to see in the next decade or two. Having comfortably gerrymandered themselves into control of the legislatures in states that reliably vote Democratic in presidential elections, the near future of electoral politics in this country is going to be one pathetic scheme after another. The only other option would be to stand for something that isn't abhorrent to everyone except 60% of white men. And that's just crazy talk.