Now that the elections are almost upon us, the Times has kindly provided some ammunition to we cynics in the form of an op-ed piece by Brian Mann, a reporter for North Country Public radio. (Since the Times requires a subscription before you can read the article, I’m just going to have to quote large chunks of it here.) Have you been wondering why Bush and Rove seem so secure in their belief that the Congress isn’t going to change hands on Tuesday? For one thing the Republicans have put major effort in the last ten years to redraw the districts to favor conservative incumbents. They are also relying on the small town voters to retain the senate. Every state gets two senators, regardless of the population. The population of the western and rural southern states are the ones the Republicans have been focusing on so right now the situation exists where even though the Republicans have a majority in the senate, their Senators actually represent less people then their Democratic collegues:
“Today the Republican Party holds an 11-seat Senate majority, but Republican senators represent 4.5 million fewer people than their Democratic colleagues, who tend to come from urban states like California, Illinois and New York. In the 2004 elections, Democratic candidates for the Senate captured nearly 10 percent more votes than Republicans nationwide, thanks to landslide support among urbanites. Yet the Republicans still managed to gain four seats, due to victories in rural states like South Dakota and South Carolina. A similarly skewed outcome is possible this year. Democrats are widely expected to gain seats in Ohio and Pennsylvania. If they do, Democratic senators will represent some 10 to 20 million more Americans nationwide than Republican senators. But if rural voters in Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia swing conservative, the Republicans will cling to the narrow majority Mr. Rove has promised.”
Now that doesn’t sound very fair to me, but it is Constitutional. (History lesson: Voters have elected their senators in the privacy of the voting booth since 1913. The framers of the Constitution, however, did not intend senators to be elected in this way, and included in Article I, section 3, "The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, chosen by the legislature thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote." Connecticut's approval gave the Seventeenth Amendment the required three-fourths majority, and it was added to the Constitution in 1913. The following year marked the first time all senatorial elections were held by popular vote.)
What disturbs me about this disproportionate representation is that it clearly subverts the intent of the Constitution and allows a minority to impose its tyrannical ideas on the rest of the country through legislation which does not reflect the will of the people. Rove is so confident because he knows all he has to do is target a few races in rural states and get these states to send two senators from the same party to Washington. Simple math.
In the House, “Republican leaders, including Speaker Dennis Hastert and his former deputy, Tom DeLay, have worked to create a similar small-town bias. They redrew district lines to systematically fracture the voting power of urban and suburban neighborhoods in half a dozen states, including Florida, Ohio and Texas.. In 2003, The Washington Post published an analysis of this scheme by a Texas political operative, Joby Fortson: ‘This has a real national impact that should assure that Republicans keep the House no matter the national mood,’ Mr. Fortson wrote.”
So while Democrats are running around measuring drapes for their Capitol Hill offices, Rove and the Republican fascist slime balls are unpeturbed. Although Iraq and Foley have had an effect on the small town voter, it might not be enough. “ If Democrats succeed in increasing their rural vote, they could decisively sweep Republicans from power. But as the Center for Rural Strategies has pointed out, most of these races will be decided by razor-thin margins. And the Republicans are working feverishly to mollify and re-energize their rural base with talk about same-sex marriage, abortion, gun rights, public Christianity, terrorism and immigration — all issues that play brilliantly in small towns. The Republican National Committee has cranked up its sophisticated get-out-the-vote machine, combining phone and mail prompts, pastor-and-pulpit networks, conservative talk radio and door-to-door canvassing.
On Election Day, millions of urban Democrats will go to the polls expecting victory and dramatic change in Washington. But beware: Mr. Rove’s sunny forecast isn’t just spin. He and his party are counting on small towns to send a very different message, and to give the Republicans two more years to get it right. “