As a liberal voter living in a very conservative state, I know my vote will always be symbolic (at best) when it comes to voting for President. I imagine conservatives in liberal states like New York feel the same way.
The reason is simple - the Electoral College.
Our system of choosing America’s Commander In Chief makes some people rightfully feel like their vote is important (especially in swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania & Florida), while others may feel the act is symbolic and sort of pointless (like little ol’ liberal me - stuck voting in the Bible Belt). Unless a majority of my Evangelical Southern neighbors suddenly become Pro-Hillary (hah!) or educated enough to understand Bernie isn't a communist (and his plans would save them thousands of dollars each year) my vote in this Republican area is irrelevant. Trump or Cruz will get my states electoral votes. Yes… I’ll probably show up, out of principal, but it will be a lackluster affair.
Occasionally a state might surprise us, and award their electoral college votes to someone we didn’t expect, but people in Kansas can almost guarantee their state will “go red” and people in Massachusetts can rest easy their state will “go blue”. We say we’re “One Nation Indivisible”, yet we have a system of electing out Commander In Chief that’s anything but.
Furthermore - the way the electoral votes are spread out means that folks living in very rural parts of the country carry more political weight than individuals living in more populated areas. A voter in Wyoming should not carry the same weight as three voters in New York. A vote should be a vote. Period.
This leaves politicians fawning over swing states, and essentially taking the rest of the country for granted after Primary Season is through. Is it just me - or does this seem like a lousy way to inspire the electorate? Shouldn’t we all be striving for a system where everyone (regardless of where they live) feels their vote could be that crucial difference between someone being elected president or not?
Before you lash out and tell me I have no right to complain if I don’t vote… please know that I have every intention of voting, even though I know it’s purely symbolic (where I live at least). I’m also not implying that other people should skip out of the process.
What I’m saying is this - if we switched to a popular vote, suddenly everyone’s voice WOULD count. There would be no “swing states”. Every vote (including mine) would matter.
You can disagree with me, but consider the following…
Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000 by over half a million votes.
Yes. you read that correctly.
He received over HALF A MILLION MORE VOTES than his rival George W. Bush (543,899 more to be exact), yet because of the moronic system we have in place, Bush won.
As we all know, it came down to the Electoral College votes of Florida, which was presided over by George W. Bush’s brother Jeb (Florida’s governor at the time) and Katherine Harris, Florida’s Republican Secretary of State - a woman so obviously biased in the outcome of the election, and devoid of any scruples, that anyone watching from the sidelines knew she’d make decisions that favored only one candidate.
Like a bad soap opera character, she basked in the spotlight for her allotted 15 minutes of fame, and doled out the expected “Bush friendly” verdicts. Ultimately the Supreme Court had to get involved, and wound up giving America one of the most damaging Supreme Court verdicts in memory (outside of possibly Citizens United).
The rest - as we all know by now - is some very bad history.
Sure, maybe Al Gore wouldn’t have been a perfect Commander in Chief, but I still like to imagine what could have been, had we selected our President by popular vote, and not an antiquated system that is so open to corruption. If we had elected Al Gore with the popular vote, some of the following attrocities might never have seen the light of day:
George Bush lolly-gagging on his ranch. Memos of “planes being flown into buildings” ignored. Deregulation of financial institutions. Deregulation of our environment. Rampant corruption. The 9/11 attacks. Bogus claims of “weapons of mass destruction”. The Iraq War. The Patriot Act. The loss of our privacy. “Mission Accomplished”. Back room Halliburton deals. The housing bubble. Banks being “too big to fail”.
Sure… maybe different bad stuff would’ve happened instead - but maybe not. It would’ve been nice to find out.
So here we are - getting ready to vote in another election. Trump and Cruz are battling it out for the Red States. Hillary and Bernie are battling it out for the Blue. In the middle of it all are many people like me - folks who already voted in their Party’s primary (Bernie got my Primary vote) but who are stuck in States that will undoubtedly award their electoral votes in November to “the other team” (Trump or Cruz will get my states votes - of that I’m fairly certain).
Yet my friends supporting Hillary still bug me. They worry about the “Bernie or Bust” movement and pester me (because they know I love Bernie, and can’t stomach Hillary). They demand to know (on a seemingly daily basis) if I’ll “show up and vote for Hillary in November” if it comes down to that.
I laugh to myself and think, “my vote won’t matter where I live, so who cares? Pester some of our Democratic friends in Florida….”
And that’s sad, because I SHOULD feel like my vote could make a difference.
We all (Republican, Democrat, Independant & Third Party) should feel like our vote could be that ONE MAGICAL VOTE that makes a difference. Our zip codes should be irrelevant on the day we elect our Commander in Chief. Let’s demand we do away with this antiquated Electoral College.
All of our votes should matter equally - and the person with the majority of support from the entire country should be able to seize the day.