This Map Will Save America

This is a very popular map right now among the wonky liberal bloggers of the grown-up end of the internet. It is designed to make the electoral college and the Senate more "democratic." Which defeats the point of those institutions!

See, in this map, every region has an approximately equal population of 5.6 million people. Very nice! Until the next census, of course, when a national redistricting would become the biggest political shitshow since impeachment. But that is just one of the problems with this map!

If we want to make the electoral college more small-d democratic, we need to abolish it. If we want the Senate to move closer to our one-man, one-vote ideal, we need to burn it down. Those institutions are designed to subvert popular democracy, and they've become so entrenched and so broken than they basically cannot be salvaged at this point.

Back when Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the presidency, liberals decided the electoral college was a bad thing that needed to go away. Now that Barack Obama can't pass legislation with huge congressional majorities, they have decided that the Senate is bad and needs to be replaced. (Both of those positions are 100% correct, of course! It's just that no one complained about those things until they were bad for Democrats, which makes the complaints seem a bit "partisan.") (Actually lots of people complained about them, but they were all academics or huge nerds. Not important, influential people, like bloggers and Slate columnists.)

Here is one of the problems with getting rid of the filibuster, though: it is very popular!

Do you remember the last time the filibuster was under fire? It was because Republicans wanted straight up-and-down votes on Bush's judicial nominees. And Democrats were obstructing. And they almost went nuclear! So at the time, the entire liberal media decided that despite its history, the filibuster was totally an important and beloved tool of democracy.*

And all that coverage of Republicans threatening to "go nuclear" and blow up the Senate and all that made the filibuster even more popular. Both with Senators and with the populace. Basically this is Capra's fault. No one actually knows that the filibuster was only used for evil in the 20th Century. No one on the non-internet news is ever like "the filibuster is the minority's one check against tyranny of the majority, and before the Clinton era it was used only to make sure black people didn't get to vote." They leave out the second part.

In fact, many of the worst, most undemocratic aspects of our weird and broken system of government are generally looked on somewhat fondly by people who haven't thought about this sort of thing since Schoolhouse Rock. The idea that small states need disproportionately powerful representation in the Senate to balance out the big states, for example. When the majority of the coastal elite corporate media happily buys into the "Real America" and "Fake America" dichotomy, it makes perfect Real American common sense that Wyoming oughtta be just as powerful as those bastards in New York.

(Though no one is particularly fond of the Supreme Court anymore, at least. Conservatives because of the court's brief mid-20th century foray into progressivism and liberals because of the entire rest of the history of those miserable gangsters.)

But! As Peter Feld always tells us, it is impossible to get people to pay attention to "process" stories. Apparently those are boring? So, no—nothing will be done about the filibuster or the electoral college. At least until Republicans gain a 60 seat Senate majority and a GOP presidential candidate wins the popular vote but loses Florida or Ohio. So pray for that if you want reform.

(From Fake is the New Real via Matt Yglesias via James Fallows)

*I'm almost sympathetic to the idea that because judges are lifetime appointments who can only be removed under extreme circumstances they could be subject to a 60-vote standard, and legislation, which can be repealed, should only need a simple majority. Almost. It is a little bit self-serving though, isn't it?