If your nation has a political system that is, by design, unfair for an enormous portion of your population, don’t bend yourself into pretzels trying to accommodate this bad system. Change the system, idiots!
What is the fairest way to elect representatives in a democracy? By having everyone vote, and counting the votes, and declaring a winner. In order to ensure that various groups get the same portion of representation as they do the vote, try proportional representation. An extremely simple common-sense system based on a national popular vote and proportional representation would ensure that our national political leaders match the will of the people voting for them.
Now consider the U.S. electoral system. Does it resemble the common-sense system above? Not at all! We have an electoral college, designed explicitly to ensure that the popular vote can be thwarted; we base those electoral college votes on states, rather than on population; we allow elected officials to gerrymander their own districts, another practice designed explicitly to thwart the popular will; and, to top it all off, we have a body called the Senate which gives two representatives to each state regardless of population, so that each citizen of Rhode Island and Wyoming is afforded many times the political power of citizens of New York and California.
In short, we have a system that is designed to pervert democracy and thwart the will of voters. And everyone knows it! It’s just too technical to arouse much fire in the average citizen. One person who seems to understand our predicament just fine is Alec MacGillis, who wrote the lead op-ed in the New York Times yesterday, rather unfortunately headlined “Go Midwest, Young Hipster.” MacGillis points out the woeful consequences of gerrymandering and the fact that “Democrats today are sorting themselves into geographic clusters where many of their votes have been rendered all but superfluous, especially in elections for the Senate, House and state government.”
No matter which party we’re talking about, it is obviously an affront to basic fairness to have a voting system in which the votes of millions of people are “rendered all but superfluous.” Right? Right. The votes of tens of millions of U.S. citizens effectively mean nothing because powerful people have designed an electoral system based on weird maps meant to maintain the power of entrenched interests, rather than on, you know, votes.
And so, understanding this, what is Alec MacGillis’s idea for reforming our broken system? Abolishing the Senate? Ending gerrymandering? Moving to a simple nationwide popular vote for president? No. His idea is: Democratic voters should move to red states. If you left your shitty home state because it sucked in order to move to a city that doesn’t suck, he proposes, you should consider moving back to your home state that sucks for the sole purpose of accommodating your entire life to our fucked up anti-democratic voting system.
No. Make the system better!