It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of the president-elect and that that’s putting it lightly. Unlike a lot of people who share my opinion, I haven’t been clamoring for changes to the electoral college. I’m not sure the electoral college is such a bad thing, primarily because I think it’s important not to marginalize the lesser populated states. Let’s face it: we’ve got a huge country to govern, and city life and country life are two very different beasts.
However, I do think we’re un-marginalizing those states a little too much. According to the last census (in 2010), the state of Wyoming has 560,000 people. They get three electoral votes. That’s one electoral vote for every 186,000-ish people. California, meanwhile, has 37 million people and 55 electoral votes. That’s one for every 670,000 people. That’s a pretty big difference. I hear Wyoming’s a wonderful place, but is giving its voters that much more power really necessary? It gets even worse when you consider the fact that both states send two senators each to Congress. Yes, I know the House of Representatives is supposed to balance out that last part, but come on they’re useless and everybody knows it.
“But Scott Colby!” you’re thinking. “That’s why I want to do away with the electoral college!” Or, alternately, you might be thinking “Waaaaaah waaaaaah waaaaah! Look at the silly liberal whining because his candidate lost! Go find a safe space you wuss!” First off, the electoral college isn’t the problem here. Second off, the entire world is my safe space bro so your ass had best hop in a rocket to the moon if you don’t want to be in it. Here’s where things go full Scott Colby: I don’t want to change the electoral college because I want to change the states.
I’ll give you a second to process that.
I know, right?!?!?
Historically, state boundaries have been determined by geographic features, railroad lines, and latitude and longitude. Why are we sticking with that? Modern technology means physical distance to your state capitol isn’t the problem it used to be. Don’t states exist to serve people, rather than land? Why haven’t I heard any talk of reexamining this ever? Sure, it would be a huge transition, but maybe it would be worth it. Splitting up heavily populated states like California and Texas would mean more representation for their residents and smaller, more functional state governments. Merging the Dakotas would increase the resources available to residents of those states. And combining all of New England together would mean we’re rid of Rhode Island and we might finally manage to civilize its savage denizens.
Yes, I understand that the distribution of electoral votes and seats in the house changes over time as state populations grow and decline, but man…this shit’s super unbalanced and it has been for quite a while now, and it’s likely to get worse as our overall population continues to increase. That census I’m getting my other numbers from shows urban growth (12.1%) outpacing the national rate of growth (9.7%). Barring a catastrophe that causes an immediate migration and means we’ve got much bigger problems than uneven representation, it’s not going to change any time soon—if ever. And I’m not looking to make the ratios perfect, mind you; somewhere around two-to-one or three-to-one sounds about right.
And before you get your Trump-brand knickers (complete with easy-access flaps for those with small hands) in a twist, remember: this works both ways. Vermont gets three electoral votes and two senators for its 630,000-ish residents. Twenty-five million Texans get 38 electoral votes and two senators. How in the blue hell can two senators properly represent 12.5 million people each?
I’m kind of amazed that I haven’t seen this idea bandied about elsewhere, at least as an intellectual exercise. There’s no way the state map would look the way it does if the United States were founded, say, yesterday. I’m particularly surprised that I haven’t seen a version of this discussed in California. Splitting Cally into multiple states would complicate several Tupac songs, but it would also make running the place a hell of a lot easier and give the state’s residents more power in the senate and in presidential elections.
I’m done now. Feel free to tell me how stupid I am, but do me a solid and at least think about it a little bit first. Usually it’s best to start at “bat shit insane and probably drunk” and work towards a realistic solution, which is what I’m doing here. Fifty stars looks a hell of a lot better on a flag than thirty-seven or sixty-three or whatever it would end up being, but times change and we need to at least entertain the idea of adjusting our existing institutions so they work well with our current situation.
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