Current affairs: Recipe for gridlock
Published 1:42 am Wednesday, March 2, 2016
You know the outcome of our presidential preference primary yesterday. I do too, today; however, this column had to go to press a few days prior to the primary. Therefore, I will have to report and analyze your voting in a later column.
One thing I do know is that we had a lot more attention paid to us in the Heart of Dixie because we had an early primary. The legislature is to be applauded for moving us up to participate in the March 1st SEC primary.
It was fun while it lasted but we can say goodbye to presidential candidates in the Heart of Dixie for the remainder of the campaign. Whoever wins the GOP nomination will have to concentrate on the 10 battleground states during the fall.
Under our Electoral College system of selecting a president, we do not elect a president by a direct vote whereby the presidential candidate who gets the most votes nationwide is elected president. The votes in each of the 50 states are tallied and the candidate who carries each state gets all of that states electoral votes.
Let us use Alabama as an example. We have seven Congressional seats and two U.S. Senate seats. Therefore, we have nine electoral votes. California, the largest state in the union, has 55 electoral votes. They amazingly have 53 Congressional seats, which means they have nearly eight times as many people in the Golden State as we do in Alabama.
The bottom line is that the Electoral College system favors the larger states, which tend to be liberal and Democratic. This system also gives inordinate importance to states that are demographically blended to make them swing states. They are unpredictable and can swing to the Democratic or GOP candidate in the presidential race. The other 40 states essentially become irrelevant. We in Alabama are going to reliably vote for the Republican nominee even if it is Donald Duck. California is going to vote for the Democratic candidate even if it is Mickey Mouse.
Therefore, simple math tells you that if the larger states like California and New York are going to vote for the liberal Democratic candidate and smaller states like Alabama and Kansas are going to vote for the conservative Republican candidate, then the advantage goes to the Democrat. You might say that the hay is already in the barn in about 40 states, us included.
Because the Electoral College favors a liberal Democrat, Hillary Clinton will more than likely be our next president. A Republican almost has to have a straight flush in all 10 swing states and must carry Florida and Ohio, the two king key swing states.
Less you feel cheated, our forefathers appear almost clairvoyant with their foresight in evening the playing field between the small and large states. We have an inherent inordinate advantage in the U.S. Senate. We have two U.S. Senators and California has two U.S. Senators, even though each of their senators has eight times as many constituents as ours. So before you complain, put yourself in the shoes of a Californian. Their vote does not count in a presidential race and they have about as much representation in the U.S. Senate as a cow in Montana.
However, our constitutional fathers left them one bastion of power. The U.S. House of Representatives calls for each congressional district throughout the country to have the same number of people. Everybody counts the same. Therefore, an assumption can be made that presidential politics favors a Democrat and the U.S. Senate favors the Republican Party.
Thus, the battleground is the U.S. House of Representatives. Political analysts suggest that the 58 seat Republican control of Congress will continue into the future. That is because of projected population shifts to mostly red states in the south and west and Republican dominance of state legislatures, which draw congressional district maps in most states. This Republican control of state legislatures, which not only occurred in Alabama but throughout the country, gave the omnipotent power of the pencil to the GOP. When liberal Democrats drew the line they created coalition districts of different liberal groups – blacks, Hispanics and progressive whites. The demographic changes occurring in the country favor a Democratic president, but the urbanization of the Democratic ranks has hurt their chances of regaining the U.S. House.
This scenario has entrenched the Republican control of Congress. There are packed districts that are very red Republican conservative seats and very blue liberal Democratic seats and very few moderate lawmakers on Capitol Hill. This is also a recipe for gridlock.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is a former state legislator and a political columnist. He may be reached at wwwsteveflowers.us.