Indicator of a broken system:
50 years ago the Presidential election came down to 20 states representing 52% of the population. Today 9 states will decide it, representing less than 1/4 of the population of the country (a guess since its not spelled out and I’m not going digging for facts in a story about lies.)
This change in what decides Presidential elections also points to another recurring theme on NobodyisFlyingthePlane. Its one that I find difficult to grasp firmly and capture in words because its like a collective fog that we all tend to see the world through. Hopefully if you read enough posts with the Same Same but Different tag you’ll start to get what I mean.
Collectively we operate under assumptions that “things” (in the most general and nebulous sense) are the same as they ever were. When we talk about something like politics we tend to do so with the belief that its the same today as it was in the past. Candidates come and go, parties rise and fall, but we tend to think that the United States political system is cruising along same as it has for the last 10, 20, 50 years. When an election comes down to 9 states (or a recount in one for that matter) it tells me that its not. I don’t mean this in the sense that the system is broken. I mean that its not the same system it used to be. That recognition can break us out of the stupor that has led us here. I hope it will overcome our unwillingness to overtly change the system.
I’m quite confident the framers of the Constitution didn’t intend for Presidential elections to be decided by small pockets of the population in less than a fifth of the States. Blue and Red States don’t work. When the overwhelming majority of the votes cast have no meaningful effect on the outcome we need a change. But the conventional wisdom is that our system is great, that it has stood the test of time, and that tinkering with it is a bad idea.
Guess what? Its been tinkered with. Just because the Constitution hasn’t been amended doesn’t mean our political system hasn’t changed. It changed while we had our headsets on, watching the movie waiting for our peanuts.
Our political system needs a radically different change to bring it back in line with the only important purpose it has ever had; to serve the will of the people. Red states and blue states are in the best interest of the political machine, but not the people themselves.
In 1960, when John Kennedy won the White House by just 0.2% of the vote, 20 states, with 52% of the population, were considered highly competitive, according to Emory University’s Alan Abramowitz. By 2000, only 12 states, with 28% of the population, had a margin of victory of less than 5 percentage points. This year no more than nine states are in play, and the vote in several of those may not even be close in the final tally. Persuadable voters are increasingly hard to find. As Brendan Nyhan, a Dartmouth professor who studies falsehood in politics, puts it, “The incentives for truth telling are weaker in many ways than they have been in the post-Watergate era.