The electoral college, Pwog palladium
There is some benefit to be had, however, in getting shucked out of my Upper West Side hideyhole like an oyster out of its shell, painful as the process may be for the oyster. My travels have extended to California, where I have become aware, sooner than I otherwise might (though not as soon as I should) of an interesting development in the arcane world of electoral procedure.
Here's how the New York Times introduces it. Note well the "framing" provided by the lede graf:
Republican donors are pumping new life into a proposed ballot initiative, considered all but dead by Democrats a month ago, that would alter the way electoral votes are apportioned in California to the benefit of Republican presidential candidates.Another fiendish Republican plot! Aiiee! What more do you need to know?
If you're perversely curious enough about the details to keep reading, you'll need a bit of patience. The actual design of the infernal machine is not supplied until the fifth graf, after some snoozeworthy radar-scattering chaff about the funding and staffing of the initiative:
The initiative would ask voters to replace California’s winner-take-all system of allocating its 55 electoral college votes with one that parses the votes by Congressional district. It has attracted strong opposition from Democrats because it would transform California from a reliably Democratic state in presidential elections by handing the Republican nominee roughly 20 votes from safe Republican districts."Handing"! "Parsing!" You have to parse this loaded, propagandistic language a couple of times yourself before you realize that this initiative actually would make the notoriously and ludicrously undemocratic electoral-college machinery noticeably more democratic, with a small 'd'. It would tend to allocate the state's electoral votes in closer proportion to the popular vote. And thus, it is a deadly threat to the Democrats with the big 'D'.
The latter, needless to say, are crying foul at the top of their lungs. What passes for "left" talk radio -- a feeble, querulous crickets' chorus, like the Trojan alter-kakers tzitzing about Helen at the Scaean Gate -- is as hot with indignation as its thin pale blood will permit. The Party machinery is revved:
Until recently, Democrats were attempting something similar in North Carolina. But Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean quietly convinced the Tar Heel Democrats to stop, saying he did not want to set a precedent Republicans could use to justify their efforts in California....[W]hile Democrats might gain as many as 7 electoral votes in North Carolina, they could end up losing as many as 22 in California.The Kosnik reaction is predictable but nevertheless amusing, if you have a cruel, Cervantean sense of humour. Here's one of the sputtering Sanchos by way of comic relief:
07-0032 - The California Theft Initiative - Links to Text and Useful Sites
Fri Nov 16, 2007 at 07:23:13 AM PST
Many Kossacks have diaried on the GOP attempt to steal the 2008 presidential elections by unfairly securing about 20 electoral votes in California for the GOP in November, 2008, by means of ballot initiative 07-0032. Suffice it to say that, if passed, 07-0032 would allocate electoral votes in California on the basis of the winners of each congressional district, rather than on the basis of the overal winner in the state, which would almost certainly guarantee 20 otherwise unattainable electoral votes for the Republican nominee.