Tag Archives: John Harwood

Why is this not a scandal?

Politico reports that the Hillary Clinton campaign has a plan to capture the Democratic Party nomination for president by March 1, 2016.

Eleven states will vote on March 1, including delegate-heavy Texas, Virginia and Colorado. And while her aides say that Clinton can and will compete vigorously in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, her fate will depend on dispatching challengers in March — something she critically failed to do last time around.
If it works, the former secretary of state will have wrapped up the party’s nomination before spring ends — with only 32 states and two territories having voted — thereby avoiding the kind of protracted battle that consumed much of 2008.

 

This means pretty evidently that, if she had her way, Hillary Clinton would claim  her party’s nomination — a major step in the nation’s electoral process  — without allowing citizens in any of the following states to participate in the decision:

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Washington, DC, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

A politician openly plans to exclude a large part of the national electorate from a major decision. why is this not a scandal?

The point here is not to take a dig at Clinton. The point is to emphasize that America is not governed democratically. Here’s a second bit of evidence supporting the argument. This one comes from Jonathan Chait’s recent column:

[Interviewer John] Harwood: Ronald Reagan . . . had in 1980 an electorate that was 88 percent white, and so did you in Wisconsin. The national electorate is not 88 percent white. If you took Reagan’s percentages with today’s makeup of the electorate, he would lose. Why is Reagan a good model in terms of the winning part?
[Wisconsin Governor Scott ]Walker: The demographics you mentioned, I mean it’s an interesting question. The nation as a whole is not going to elect the next president. Twelve states are. Wisconsin’s one of them. I’m sitting in another one right now, New Hampshire. There’s going to be Colorado, where I was born, Iowa, where I lived, Ohio, Florida, a handful of other states. In total, it’s about 11 or 12 states that are going elect the next president.

 

So on both sides of the political aisle, there are explicit strategies to win the presidency by openly and explicitly ignoring large parts of the electorate.

Some will say that the later-voting states will still be allowed to votes even though Clinton will have obtained the majority of delegate votes before hand. Some will say that that is just how it works. Some will say that the states are free to set their election dates, and it is not Clinton’s fault that some states vote late. Some will say we should look to the other party to offset Clinton.

I think that so much of the American population is already excluded from effective participation in the electoral process, by gerrymandering, by voting machine manipulations, by selective enforcement of voter ID requirements, and by other means, that the one person-one vote ideal is no longer taken seriously. Over at The Constitution Project, there is a rhapsodic paean to the one-person, one vote principle and a narrative of how America’s great leaders worked until voting rights were guaranteed for all! But it just isn’t true.

Do you think that your vote counts as much as that of any other American? Do you think voting is an effective way of steering local, state or national affairs in the direction you want them to go?  Would you say that in recent years you’ve cast your votes with a great degree of confidence, and that your expectations have been fulfilled by the performance of the person elected?

Does anyone think those things?