This season’s electoral landslide highlights once again that the Electoral College is a device of questionable political accuracy. How are we supposed to interpret these particular tea leaves, these apparently random numerological phenomena? Does it make a cohesive statement? Can we say with confidence that these United States have definitively spoken, and with a greater than 2 to 1 electoral margin at that? As much as I’d love to say it’s true, I fear it’s not.
The defenders of the EC say it’s a marvelous device for preventing tyrannical majorities, but in the absence of any such tyranny either way, what purpose is served? One thing this country seldom produces is a strong majority. The defenders also say that it gives greater representation to individual states, allowing the little guys to get a piece of the action, but I say that’s irrelevant today. I think that the mass media and culture of the United States produced by the 20th century has tied the country together as a cohesive entity. I can ask myself if I am an Arkansan or a New Yorker, but it’s irrelevant because I’m an American first. Even McCain’s campaign slogan was “Country First.” Not “States First.” The US always comes first in the minds of nearly every American. We wear our state citizenship as a sort of alma mater, secondary to our federalist identity. We even label ourselves with the misnomer, “American,” because it’s too weird and untrue to say “United Stater.”
Contrary to the randomly drawn borders of the US map, the needs and minds of Americans generally fall into two socio-economic camps: urban and rural. The red state/blue state map is a crock. Name me one major US city that voted McCain. Even Tuscaloosa, Alabama voted Obama 62% TO 38%! I’ll repeat that, TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA VOTED OBAMA. It has a peculiar rhythm to it that I think nicely underscores the unmitigated glee behind the words.
Looking back over past blog entries, I’m reminded that Heath had some great links on the Electoral College, and my rant from four years ago is still pretty applicable. I stand by it: city mice and country mice are we. I say it as a born country mouse.
1.) It’s so hard to find them because everything is county oriented. I wish somebody would compile a list of major US cities by vote, no suburbs or rural outlying areas added.