Tuesday, November 29, 2016

In Which I Connect the Election with the Works of Patrick O'Brian

I just came up with this while watching Fiona's fencing lesson and contemplating the state of things.

There has been a lot of use of the word "rigged" and variants thereof. Before the election Trump said the process was rigged; after the election clarified that it was just the popular vote that was rigged thanks to "illegals" voting.

Presidential elections are in fact rigged, and here is where the O'Brian reference enters. Sailing ships have two kinds of rigging, expressed very roughly thus: standing rigging holds up the masts, while running rigging allows the crew to raise and lower the sails and maneuver the ship according to wind speed and direction.

The standing rigging of presidential elections is the Electoral College, founded concurrent with the infamous three-fifths compromise by which slaveholding states increased their power as a condition of ratifying the new constitution. Those whose policy preferences are reinforced by the proportionally greater power of rural over urban constituencies can spin up pious defenses of the EC at the drop of a hat. "But Dave," I will also hear, "what about the times the EC has gone against the popular vote to the disadvantage of YOUR policy preferences? What happened then?" Couldn't tell you because that hasn't happened.

Ok, back to O'Brian as it's vastly more interesting than the conversations in my head. The running rigging of national elections has been the variety of voter suppression laws on the books of various states throughout this already great nation's history. By some strange circumstance the worst of these took hold in the post-rebellion South, in the states of the so-called Confederacy. Go figure. At any rate, the ship of state was shorn of much of its running rigging via the Voting Rights Act of the 1960s (and re-upped since), which the Supreme Court recently determined was no longer necessary since the voter suppression laws it actively prevented no longer existed. By another strange circumstance a raft of voter suppression laws was promptly introduced, and by "promptly" I mean "as soon as the day after the SCOTUS ruling came down." Go. Figure. These laws, coupled with the targeted reduction of voting infrastructure in traditionally Democratic areas, probably contributed to the GOP victory. But I guess it's OK to suppress the vote as long as it reinforces your policy preferences.

There's a theory going around that Trump's spouting off about "illegals" is the stage-setting for the introduction of federal-level voter suppression, ratified by an unconstrained Congress and upheld by a Supreme Court that will get at least two Trump picks installed following the death of the filibuster. But at least all that voter fraud will finally be taken care of.

What a lovely ship we have launched.


jjv said...

This is nonsense. Black turnout was higher in many states of the South than white turnout. Moreover the electoral college was put in place -by Alexander Hamilton- partly to stop the then largest state in the Union, Virginia from disproportionate strength. Similarly, it was agreed to by small states to stop a national plebiscite where they would count for nothing. The fact that the modern Democrat can't stand opposing views and so huddle together in vast megolopolises where they do not have to hear opposing views, while the Republicans are spread out more evenly across the country is not a good look for Democrats. Lincoln purposely set out the lines of all those square states so that the Democrats could not easily win. It was the racist Tilden who was defeated the first time this happened, for that guy Hayes who had blacks in Government jobs. Like Chris Coons regretting getting rid of the filibuster this is typical progressive whining when they lose under rules everyone knew before hand. If we required 50 percent runnoffs like in Lousiana Clinton would never be President. Trump, Johnson and, ahem, McMullin exceeded Clinton-Stein. A coalition government would be even more conservative.

Dave S. said...

Your first sentence should end with a colon instead of a period; other than that you're good to go.