I am writing in response to a recent letter calling for the disenfranchisement of urban voters in favor of rural Oregonians through the establishment of a state version of the Electoral College. I understand why conservatives wish they could exert minority rule over state government as they currently do at the federal level, but this suggestion ignores our nation’s history and Constitution.
The letter writer incorrectly claims that Americans would never agree to majority rule, which is patently false. While we are not a pure democracy, the anti-majoritarian Electoral College and Senate are the exceptions, not the rule, in the unique system of governance that we like to call a democratic republic. The vast majority of political power in this country, from governor down to dog catcher, is distributed through the workings of small “d” democracy.
This also isn’t the first time that rural and urban residents disagreed about whether certain Americans were entitled to greater rights than others. We had a big fight about it, in fact — they called it the Civil War. Afterward, we even went through the trouble of amending the Constitution to make absolutely certain that there would be no further confusion about the matter — and now, the Fourteenth Amendment provides that “no State shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of its laws.”
The Supreme Court subsequently applied the Equal Protection Clause to the issue of rural overrepresentation advocated by the letter writer in the 1964 case of Reynolds v. Sims, wherein the Court clearly established the principle of “one person, one vote.” In the words of Chief Justice Earl Warren: “Legislators represent people, not trees or acres. Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic interests.”
Unfortunately for Republicans, this means that if they want to control state government, they are going to have to do it the old-fashioned way — by winning elections. This is admittedly hard to do for a party that denies climate change, opposes common sense gun safety measures and nominates a Senate candidate who espouses crazy conspiracy theories and an attorney general candidate who isn’t even an attorney. So instead they’ve turned to Plan B, and now we get to read about half-baked ideas that will never come to fruition, like the state of Jefferson, Greater Idaho and now a state version of the Electoral College.
I have a better idea. As Americans, we’re free to live in whichever state we want — and there are 50 flavors to choose from. Since conservative Oregonians have clearly identified an unspoiled Eden to our east, I’d like to point out the path of least resistance. But they don’t need to take my word for it. I will instead quote the Twitter feed of their leader, President Donald Trump, who famously stated: “If you are not happy here, you can leave!”
Idaho is just a few hours away, after all.