Tag Archives: electoral college

The Electoral College and the White Supremacist’s Advantage

In these first few weeks of the Trump Administration, we’ve seen truly awful executive orders. We’ve also seen a historic rising up of people, organizations, and businesses. Even normally lazy and intractable politicians are taking the hint. This isn’t shaping up to be the smooth ride Donald wanted.

While this encourages me, it isn’t actually him who scares me the most. He’s the current manifestation of something that has been around a lot longer, will probably outlast him and is a lot more dangerous; the white supremacy movement.

How to create a truly diverse and equal world is a complex conversation with many different valid perspectives, but any decent human being should agree that it should exist. If your fundamental goal is to deny the humanity of anyone based on their race, language, nation of origin or ancestral ethnicity, you are not a legitimate political movement. You are an organization of hate. In recent years, white America has patted itself on the back for racial progressiveness, all the while ignoring dog whistling, southern apologists, and the piles of evidence for ongoing institutional racism. Now that white supremacists have put themselves back in the public eye, they have an opportunity to put themselves back on the table as a political perspective that we treat as normal. That cannot happen.

It is well known that your odds of being racist inversely correspond with your actual experience with people from different races. This effect can be mitigated by taboos against discussing race, institutional racism and socially acceptable racism, but in general, when people are allowed to socialize with other ethnic groups, discuss their differences and also find common ground, the idea of institutionalized racism becomes abhorrent. As America moves towards both greater demographic diversity, and also a greater social conversation about race, white supremacy loses more and more footholds. This excellent development means that, as time goes on, they only have a few regions of the country where they even have a chance to spread their ideology.

Simply put, they are better off in rural regions than urban areas.

This advantage doesn’t come from any moral superiority of city dwellers, but simply the fact that in a city you become more and more likely to run into people who are different from you on a daily basis. You are more likely to get inoculated against white supremacy, even in a society where racist institutions still exist. Rural areas are more isolated, and so easier for white supremacists to infect.

Now, the fact that they are so isolated should give white supremacists a disadvantage politically. This is where the Electoral College comes in. Because of the Electoral College, every Presidential election, voters in highly rural get their votes weighted double or treble over voters in states with major cities. With every Presidential election, they get a chance to control the public conversation about race. They get a chance to appoint Supreme Court Justices by proxy. They get a chance to dictate global policy. Without the Electoral College, white supremacists today would have no chance of putting their platform on a global or even national scale. With it, well, we are all seeing what has happened.

I think we will defeat Donald Trump. He’s too easy to mock and rally against. What scares me is the prospect of someone taking advantage of the galvanized white supremacist movement that he created. I worry that someone will come along who is smoother, more subtle when it comes to concealing their crimes, and altogether far less easy to mock. Not only do I think this is possible, but right now I think it’s inevitable.

What isn’t inevitable is that person’s victory. Even now, with so many racial problems still infecting our country, I believe our population has become too diverse for a true white supremacist to win the national popular vote. But as 2016 has proved, it’s possible for even a very unlikable one to win the Electoral College.

Activism against the current threat is wonderful, and we should keep doing it. But we should also have an eye on the future. The Electoral College is life support for neo-nazis. We need to unplug it.

This is part of an ongoing series on why I care so much about the Electoral College and the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. If I’ve convinced you that the Electoral College is something to be concerned about, or just want to know more, please check out the NPVIC’s site. If you want to take action, the best way is to call your state governor and representatives and tell them you want your state to sign the NPVIC. On their homepage is a search bar, where you can type your zip code and find out who they are. 

The Last Electoral College

First, I motherfucking love this. This is the best shit.

(source here)

I suspect for many people, their New Year’s resolutions look more like New Year’s battle plans, as they use resources like this and this to figure out how to effectively combat the bigotry of the Trump administration. I’ve already seen some people put together game plans, and it’s awesome. I’ve joined a lot of action mailing lists and I’ve been working on contacting my representatives, which feels great. But I’ve decided to add my own personal, specific quest.

In 2017, I’m going to make the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact something that politicians openly talk about and campaign on.

The Electoral College had one job to do; prevent a corrupt, unqualified demagogue from taking election due to a popular vote. Last year, it did the exactly opposite of that. At best, it’s redundant, and at worst it undermines the very concept of democracy. There are two ways to get rid of it. First, there’s the constitutional amendment route, but you need an incredibly united front to do that, and in today’s politically fragmented world that is unlikely. Second, there’s the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, or NPVIC. When they sign the compact, states agree that they will award all their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote, as soon as 270 electoral votes worth of them are signed on. When it hits that magic number, the electoral college will automatically vote for the winner of the popular vote. It’s a clever trick that makes the college cancel itself out.

Some people have argued that this won’t work because it isn’t in the interest of red states (who tend to gain a disproportionate advantage from the Electoral College, hence George W. Bush and Donald Trump). It also won’t be in the interest of swing states, who get wined and dined every four years thanks to the electors. So far only blue states have signed it and, according to these experts, only deep blue states will, so it’s a lost cause.

To which I say, bullshit. Parties aren’t going to sign it. Elected officials are, and elected officials are selfish. They want to be re-elected. If we send a message that we are fed up with this shitty system, and promising to sign it is key to their elections, they will sign the compact.

Right now, there’s a circle of silence. Politicians don’t talk about the NPVIC, so voters don’t know about it. Because voters don’t know about it, they don’t petition, ask or vote for it. And because they don’t petition, ask or vote for it, politicians feel comfortable ignoring it, which is why they don’t bring it up.

A lot of action people have taken has centered around calling our national representatives, which is great. It’s incredibly important to do that. But we also have state governors and legislators who we can call and talk to. We will also have elections, and candidates. Virginia and New Jersey are electing new governors this year. I’ve already called candidates in my state asking them to make statements on their support of the NPVIC. I plan to go to events whenever I can and ask them about it publicly as well. And I’m going to do what I can to get other people asking politicians about this.

I’ll keep updating as I keep working on this. In the meantime, if you are reading this, please call your state governors and legislators and tell them you’re voting in 2018 and talk to them about the NPVIC. Keep yourself updated on it’s progress. This can be done.