Wednesday, October 28, 2015

SPEAK UP

If you have been reading my blogs, you know that I sent a survey on constitutional issues to the candidates for President, and that not a single one of them did me or you the courtesy of a reply.

Now I have installed that same survey on the Convention USA web site, and I am inviting all of my blogees and blogettes to speak up on these same issues.

Simply go to www.conventionusa.org and click on the “SPEAK UP” button and you will be taken to the 23 question survey.  We don’t ask for personal information other than age and sex, so you are not going to be flooded with emails or solicitations if you take the survey.

I don’t think the survey is biased either to the left or to the right. We are talking about basic structural issues having to do with the operation of the government and the relationship between the nation and state governments.

From time to time, I will report to you how the voting is going, so that together we can see if there is any chance of public consensus on these important constitutional issues.

Right now, I want to talk a little about just one of the questions which might, at first glance, leave some folks scratching their head.

Question #8 asks this:

Would you favor an amendment prohibiting voting for more than one member of the House of representatives?

Of course today, no one can vote for more than one Representative because House members are chosen from single member districts. So the only reason for the one vote rule is that, when gerrymandering is abolished, there will be many districts entitled to multiple representatives.

So here is the problem: let’s say that a county is entitled to elect 20 members of Congress. And let’s say that the county is 80% Democrat and 20% Republican. If every voter can vote for 20 candidates, all 20 Democrats will receive 80% of the vote and all 20 Republicans will get 20%.

If, however, voters can vote for only one candidate, Democrat candidates will receive an average of 4% of the vote (80% divided by 20 candidates) and Republicans will receive an average of  1% of the vote (20% divided by 20 candidates.)

If the Republicans only nominate five candidates, however, those five will average 4% of the vote, just as the Democrats.

The same math applies obviously to any minority in a large district. If the minority fields only a few candidates, they will have a strong possibility of winning at least a few seats.

My friend Larry Lessig, the brilliant Harvard Professor and political gadfly who is running for the Democratic Presidential nomination, endorses abolishing gerrymandered single member districts, but his solution to voting in multi-seat districts is a novel form of ranked voting. In addition to the fact that it adds an arcane factor to the counting of votes, it really doesn’t prevent the evils of slate voting, as the least popular candidate of the majority will still receive more votes than the most popular minority.

I appreciate the fact that this discussion is technical and for most folks, boring; about as titillating as watching a math teacher drawing boxes and triangles on the blackboard to explain the Pythagorean Theorem.    

But the fact is that we are talking here about the Constitution; the Supreme Law of the Land; the Charter of our liberties. This is not a place to struggle for power or superiority. This is an exercise in seeking agreement on a system; a system that works, even handedly and fairly, no matter who is currently on top of the political heap.

Tonight we will be treated to the third Republican Primary debate. Looks like this time, Ben Carson will be in the middle. I have tweeted all the moderators of the debate, urging them, at least, to ask the candidates if they favor a convention to propose amendments that Congress refuses to consider.

Hardly the kind of emotion laden “gotcha” question most moderators like to ask. Still, some of us would like to know.

  

No comments:

Post a Comment