I spent a lot Jan 21 with tears of joy and pride in my eyes, watching the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, surprised by the depth of my own emotion. I was proud of our President, and prouder of our country, once again demonstrating the overarching exercise of democracy in the peaceful transition (or in this case continuation) of power. What a country!
But even as I watched today, I was aware that this may be the last fair election of my lifetime -- and the last time a Democrat wins the Presidency. Because one thing you have to admire about Republicans -- they do not give up. They have a new plan for permanently assuring their supremacy despite the wishes of the great majority of Americans -- and this one looks pretty foolproof. They aim to rig the Electoral College. This post is long -- but it is urgent. Please keep reading, because if they succeed -- game over.
My last column addressed the question of "what do Republicans teach their children?" I questioned whether Republican children are being taught about sportsmanship, fair play and honesty, in light of the behavior of their candidates in this last election. I ask the question again, in light of the Republicans' new strategies for winning the Presidency. Put simply, if you can't win by following the rules -- change the rules. And, make sure the new rules permanently tilt the playing field as steeply as possible in your favor. Fairness? Sportsmanship? Having better policies? Winnng the majority of the population? Bah, humbug.
In this past election, it became clear that Republicans are a shrinking party due to their exclusionary view of the world. They have actively rejected minorities, women, gays, students, seniors, and immigrants. There isn't much left -- certainly not a national majority. So, if you don't have the numbers to win, and you won't change your positions -- then you have to reduce the other guy's numbers. Therefore, we saw many and varied plans crop up for voter suppression. Here in PA, Republicans attempted to limit the democratic vote through their oppressive Voter ID law, which targeted traditionally democratic constituencies. Thankfully, we still have a court system that understands what democracy means, and the Voter ID law was temporarily blocked in PA.
So, now we have Steal the Presidency, 2.0.
The new plan is actually breath-takingly ingenious. Republicans started by using the Tea Party to take over many state legislatures, like ours, in 2010. That wasn't just a happy accident -- they targeted 2010, because every ten years, the state legislatures redraw the Congressional districts. Republicans care about local politics more than Democrats do and here is the consequence. The census determines whether a state gains or loses congressional districts, but the party in power gets to design those districts any way they please. In 2010, the Republicans executed a national plan called "Redmap" to redraw congressional districts in a way that clumps all the Democrats into just a few districts, and makes the others "safe" for their Republican representatives. Our 8 th District was one of the least affected, because it was already incredibly challenging for a Democratic candidate -- but none-the-less, we lost the couple of areas of Montgomery and Bucks that had given Patrick Murphy his margin of victory in 2008, in return for some more northern Montgomery County areas that are reliably Republican. This all but assures this district for a Republican going forward forever, or until the population changes dramatically.
So, what is the result of all this redistricting? Well, in this last election, 1.1 Million more Democrats than Republicans nationally voted for their party's Congressperson. But the Republicans still have a 25 seat majority in the House of Representatives. In PA, 83,000 more Democrats than Republicans voted for their congressional candidate, but
And here's the punchline. Now, the Republicans are preparing for Redmap 2.0. They want to apply this same principle to Presidential elections, by apportioning electoral college votes by these gerrymandered congressional districts, and