August 8, 2016

How to “Unrig” the Political System.

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A lot of my liberal and progressive friends are complaining about a “rigged” political system in the United States.

Here is an analysis and a toolkit to “unrig” it:

More people vote Democrat than Republican in the United States, yet the Republicans control the U. S. House and Senate as well as most governorships and state legislatures. Why?

Reason #1: Off-Year Elections. In off-year elections (which occur two years after each presidential election, the next one is in 2018) more Republicans vote than Democrats. The U. S. House and Senate incumbency rate is 90%. There is only a 10% chance of electing a new representative or senator (and thus flipping the party) if the incumbent chooses to run again.

This means that in off-year elections, Republicans have greater influence on the makeup of Congress, which, combined with with the high incumbency rate, has the cumulative effect on slowly turning both bodies Republican. This is not “rigged.” This is you not showing up to vote.

A significant minority of conservatives are single issue voters, that issue being abortion (anti-choice). They are also told in evangelical and fundamentalist churches that “it is your Christian duty to vote.” I know this first hand, and want to tell you that if you skip election participation because of apathy, your conservative neighbors are much more likely to vote from their sense of duty.

Reason #2: Gerrymandering. This isn’t just a funny word. It is a seriously debilitating device used to unfairly carve out house districts. The U. S. Constitution requires a population census be taken every 10 years. Results of the census determine how many house members each state gets. However—the state legislatures decide how the lines are drawn, and the majority of state legislatures are Republican (another result of the high Republican turnout in off-year elections) and they do everything in their power to favor their party.

Gerrymandering is the strategic dilution of house districts to cause the unfavored party to have very high concentrations of their likely voters within certain districts, and the favored party to have slight majorities of their likely voters in other districts. The net effect is that each state will gain one or two extra U. S. House seats for the party in control of that state’s legislature than what a fair representation would create. This is somewhat “rigged,” although voting in off-year elections may help to cure the current imbalance. Computers should draw district boundaries for ultimate, blind fairness.

Reason #3: Grassroots Offices. If you are tired of the two party system dominance in the U. S., then start at the bottom not the top. Get Green, Socialist, Libertarian, and other third party candidates elected to school boards, city councils, state legislatures and so forth. Demonstrate—at a grass roots level—that these alternative candidates can govern and the cumulative effect will spread like wildfire upwards to national elections.

Reason #4: The Electoral College. This antiquated system disproportionately allocates more weight-of-vote to lesser populated states, especially in the Mountain West region, where most vote Republican. The “one person, one vote” ideal is grossly sabotaged by the Electoral College. It needs to go. (Two Senators per state is equally unfair. This means Wyoming gets one Senator for every 250,000 people while California get one for every 20,000,000! This compromise was need when forming the Union in 1776, but is way outdated.)

You can continue to complain about a “rigged” system, or you can understand why your party does not have the expected results in election outcomes and change your voting habits and participation so that actual change occurs.




Author: J. Brian Young

Image: Wikipedia

Apprentice Editor:Heather McLendon Hart; Editor: Travis May

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