Trust me on this.
Your vote for President of our disunited red, blue and purple states — an office real estate moguls used to just spend their dollars buying, not trying to serve — doesn’t matter if you live anywhere other than a battleground state.
I live in Texas. But it would be the same story if I lived in New York or California. Or over the fence in Mexico. Or on Mars happily tending to my potato crop.
Only purple states (on this planet) matter.
You can show your drivers license, passport, identification card or whatever it is your state now requires to prevent minority voters from voting for too many Democrats. It won’t matter. If your state is solidly red (Republican) or blue (Democratic) on John King’s election map, you might as well sleep in.
Thanks go to the Electoral College and its arcane methodology that has made losers out of four previous candidates who actually won the popular vote — most recently Al Gore — and now makes over 80 percent of our country’s citizens losers because their votes in reliably red and green states are less votes for real candidates than votes for continued disenfranchisement.
Of course, some good comes with the bad: Non-battleground states avoid the political ad war zone where ads for local furniture stores, car dealers and grocery stores get replaced by poll-tested ads for DEEPLY SERIOUS candidates peddling vapid, poll-tested pabulum. Unfortunately, some bad also comes with the good: Non-battleground states miss out on the delightful schadenfreude of watching their unprepared local t.v. anchors move from reporting the latest BREAKING STORIES!! and interviewing witnesses to car wrecks and robberies to asking (or better said, attempting to ask) DEEPLY SERIOUS questions to the DEEPLY SERIOUS candidates.
This year we live in an election world where a real estate guy with four bankruptcies to his credit (or too much credit and thus four bankruptcies) and zero political experience can opine on international economic issues, border security and nuclear agreements and deliver policy proposals whose only details are the adjectives used to describe them. It’s also a world where a first-term senator, with fewer allies in the Republican party than Obama, whose signature accomplishments are consistently opposing legislation that eventually passed, and then, when those failures weren’t noticeable enough, reading fairy tales while he filibustered legislation that also eventually passed, can attract establishment backing because the guy with the adjectives policy is so awful.
And it’s a world where a candidate whose sole interest seems to be proclaiming that democratic socialism is America’s answer to a question America never actually asked, and if polls can be trusted, another candidate few people actually trust doing her best to cement that perception, could easily beat the Republican Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.
If ever there was a reason to absolve yourself of all responsibility and move to a non-battleground state, this would be it.
How quaint that every four years we get to pretend that our vote actually matters. Websites like 538, Real Clear Politics, Politico and the The Cook Report generate, interpret and report polling data that furthers the illusion that the citizens of the United States of America elect our presidents.
The reality? We live in a representative democracy, but a minority of representatives really represent. Citizens in maybe a dozen states (at best) decide who is going to be our president. Call it one person, one faux vote. Credit goes to our Electoral College with additional credit to our obtuse primary voting rules.
Yes, yes, yes, Black Lives (do) Matter. So do black votes. And white votes. And all shades of our citizens’ votes.
Let’s start with primary voting. If you live in a state with early primaries, then you get to set the agenda for what follows. New Hampshire and Iowa citizens this year could choose from 17 Republican candidates who pandered to the local corn and email issues so important to our nation’s economic and geopolitical well-being.
Trump and his fellow match opponents soon also learned to broaden their focus to include praising Israel and bashing a whole list of bashable people and things: the Palestinians, the Iran and Cuba agreements, Syrian policy and Syrian refugees, illegal immigration, China, NATO, trade deficits, Obamacare, Hillary, economic failures, educational policies, foreign policy, naïve bargaining, Benghazi, private email servers, reporters, cold pizza and anything else that polling or Sheldon Adelson’s acolytes suggested should be attacked.
As new state primaries unfolded and more candidates folded, voters had fewer choices. Yes, that was sort of conceptually unfair to voters in downstream primaries. But, in reality, it was more of a mercy killing. Most of the candidates were already on life support.
And let’s be frank. An all-you-can-suffer candidate buffet only leads to confusion and suppressed Republican party idiocy. Reducing the scrum to a manageable number of future losing candidates releases the toxic fumes of the real Republican party. That’s when primary voting (and non-voting) rules best work their mysterious wonder.
Do you live in a state where votes are allocated proportionately, winner-take-all, winner-take-almost-all depending on the percentage of the total vote, winner-take-a-higher-or-lower-percentage based on a percentage of congressional districts won, a caucus state where the rules are still being formulated, or a state where all of the delegates get to act as total free agents? Maybe you live in a territory like Puerto Rico that gets to vote in the preliminary (primary) but not the final (national election)?
Once we move past this primary vortex we enter the nominating convention vortex, where it’s literally possible that no votes will matter depending on what that political party decides to adopt as its every-four-year voting rules. Unfortunately, none of the current voting rules seem to allow for a Republican party forfeit to the Democratic party. It is a certainty that a candidate will emerge.
Maybe it will be a bigoted populist or a misogynistic racist. Maybe the Republicans will be lucky enough to pick the one person who embodies the best of all these fine losing characteristics. Or maybe the Republicans will want to pick a candidate that embodies political dysfunction and who no one in the Republican party actually likes.
Or maybe the compromise candidate could be the Electoral College itself. As long as the Republicans seem to be doing their best to lose, why not take out this anachronism at the same time?