Heroes show courage
Last month I wrote a letter to Nevada Governor Sisolak to let him know I considered him to be a hero. He stood for what he believed in the face of strong opposition from his own political party as he vetoed the National Popular Vote (NPV) bill. I mentioned to him, as I have blogged (see A Ridiculous, Radical, and Dangerous Voting Option), that NPV is dangerous. His courage is rare and appreciated for those who love our form of governance.
Heroes are among us, everywhere
Unlike the image depicted here, heroes walk among us, serve in many ways, and often go unnoticed. Perhaps it’s because they don’t have spectacular costumes or remarkable weaponry, as does Captain America. Certainly, few heroes capture our deserved attention as they serve.
I found a rather obscure quote, found not in common political reporting, but from one of our great sportsmen. Arthur Ashe was an American professional tennis player winning, as the only black man ever, to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open. He contracted HIV and Aids from a blood transfusion and founded the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS. He pointed out:
True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others, at whatever cost.
Heroes appear in Maine
Now we have witnessed twenty Democrats in Maine’s House of Representatives joining their Republican colleagues to also vote down the NPV measure. Reid Wilson, of The Hill, reported that Maine voted down the National Popular Vote bill.He reports:
A bill to enter Maine into the National Popular Vote interstate compact failed in a 68-79 vote on Monday in the state House. Twenty Democrats joined Republicans in voting down the measure.
It’s been a back-and-forth moment for the Maine legislators as they wrestle with the concerns. Being a hero against such popularity is not easy. I’m hoping these few resisted the popular promise because they recognize NPV’s shortcomings. Maybe they had other reasons. For example, perhaps they recognized that their own state’s presidential election process of using congressional district voting is far superior to NPV. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that they did not cast their vote for political gain in the face of the misguided enthrall of NPV.
Congressional district voting gains attention
Personally, I applaud Maine in that they, along with Nebraska, are courageous and inventive enough to realize they can be more sensitive to their constituents by using congressional district voting. For one thing, it makes Maine significant. As an example, both Trump and Clinton campaigned hard in the little state as they realized they had the potential to split the state’s four electoral votes. Clinton failed to retain the four electoral votes, which are typically cast for the Democrat. Instead, Trump managed to peal away one vote for his own.
As any reader of this blog is aware, I repeatedly defend the Electoral College and point out that the winner-takes-all approach disrupts its value. Maine and Nebraska try to modify that approach and allow their allocated votes to be split via their congressional district voting.
Winner-Takes-All spoils the election
However, it should be realized, Maine and Nebraska still employ the winner-takes-all approach, albeit in a different format. Each of these two states allocates two of their electoral votes on a winner-takes-all statewide basis. The remaining electoral votes are then awarded on a winner-takes-all congressional district basis (two for Maine and three for Nebraska).
It is an improvement on what the other 48 states do but these two states still suffer a serious amount of voter disenfranchisement. That is, votes that are not counted among the winner-takes-all favorite are cast aside and are not included in the Electoral College representation. Maine, for example, did not allow over 53.6% of the votes cast to matter in 2016. It is a serious example of vote suppression that is shared by every state.
Heroes mostly absent among Oregon Democrats
We lacked heroism in my home state of Oregon recently as the Democrat legislators (Senate and House) passed NPV. These legislators chose to defy the U.S. Constitution, ignore Oregon’s sovereignty, and place my vote (as well as their own) at risk should the NPV compact become enacted. Those who vote for such an election approach should be ashamed. It certainly is not heroic.
Equal Voice Voting makes every vote matter
Many state legislators across the country are becoming aware of yet a better approach in Equal Voice Voting (EVV). EVV removes the winner-takes-all approach and replaces it with an Electoral College proportional translation of a state’s popular votes into electoral votes. It means every vote matters, every vote for viable candidates are represented, and every state is heard.
But it comes with a challenge. It requires, as Arthur Ashe pointed, the urge to serve others. It means that every constituent has the right to have his or her vote gain Electoral College representation – even those of a non-dominant political persuasion. It means putting ALL constituents first, rather than a pre-selected percentage from a prevailing political affiliation.
Our nation needs many heroes – legislators and citizens alike. We all must press for a fair approach that admits every vote matters.