Editorial Comment
November 8, 2001


Another local election has come and gone, and we can look forward to a presidential contest three years from now. Regardless of who the candidates are, we probably will hear a lot of talk about them being uniters not dividers. The theory is that despite political differences, we are all pals here in the United States. Elections are supposed to be celebrations of democracy, and regardless of who wins, we are all expected to join arms afterward and march off seeking the greater good

Well, that is not going to happen. Despite the war on terrorism, the demographics of the United States have shifted in ways that make it almost impossible for there to be a common good. The last presidential election, in particular, showed that we have evolved into two separate nations, each having little in common with the other. One consists of large cities along with a mere handful of rural areas. The other nation consists of everyone else.

This is apparent by looking at a map of election results displayed by county. The map shows, as one observer has pointed out, that if Mr. Gore had won, it would have been possible for him to board an airplane in Washington and fly to California without passing over a single county he carried in the election.

Counties carried by Mr. Gore are confined mostly to the northern reaches of the East Coast, the Rust Belt, Appalachia, the Mississippi River valley, a strip along the Mexican border, and the water's edge of the West Coast. The map makes you think that Mr. Bush must have won in a landslide. The counties he captured cover an overwhelming 81% of the nation's surface area. Yet he still lost the popular vote.

Because of the way the population distribution skews electoral votes, the heartland of America now counts for very little in presidential elections. With the present lineup of electoral votes, a candidate can become president by winning only the 11 most populous states. Just four states control enough votes to get a candidate halfway to victory.

Merely winning California gives a candidate 20% of the electoral votes necessary to win, and in that state, 40% of the households do not speak English as their primary language. In Texas, English is not the primary language in 32% of the homes. In New York, the figure is 28%. Those three states account for 120 electoral votes, or 44% of what is necessary to win.

So the nation is being divided by language as well as by geography. Big-city attitudes will increasingly dominate presidential elections. This means you can look forward to a deteriorating climate for business and industrial enterprise. Government will be more and more intrusive. Political campaigns will increasingly be based on tooth-fairy economics, with candidates promising everyone an ever-increasing standard of living. And as husbands, boyfriends, and daddies make themselves scarce, there will be more pressure to make Uncle Sam the husband and daddy of last resort. This probably is already responsible for some of the political polarity based on gender. Among women, 47% say they favor Democrats, while only 32% of men do. In all, there are inexorable pressures pushing politics to the left.

Do I have solutions? Yes, but they are unconstitutional. For openers, I would restrict voting to people paying a positive income tax. In addition, I would give everyone a vote on local candidates and issues in every jurisdiction where they pay an income tax. Finally, it may be time to freeze electoral votes where they are right now, regardless of what the next census shows.

-- Ronald Khol, Editor