Neither our editorial board nor Zack Pohl, executive director of Progress Michigan, see much merit in Shelby Township Republican State Rep. Pete Lund’s proposal to change the way Michigan’s electoral votes are doled out in presidential elections.
Lund, through his office, declined an opportunity to write an op-ed explaining his plan, denying his constituents and the other 10 million Michiganians who’d be affected by his idea the chance to understand his logic. Perhaps because he knew he would be defending the indefensible.
The sweeping change Lund suggests is the stuff of three martini lunches and smoke-filled rooms, not opinion columns read in the light of day. There’s no way to say “the wrong guys won last time and we need insurance” in a way that’s politically advantageous.
It just doesn’t sound good. At least it didn’t when an Ohio Republican official, Doug Priesse, blabbed to The Columbus Dispatch, via email, that his state “shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine,” words that made Priesse an ugly face of the voter suppression movement last year. Lund doesn’t want to make it harder for you to vote — he just wants your vote to not count for as much, depending on who you are.
Lund seems to have bought into a fantasy I’ve written about before, an idea that’s turned the descendants of the Greatest Generation, the Baby Boomers, into the greatest of disappointments: The fantasy that one’s political opponents would cease to exist if only this candidate were elected or that law were passed.
Rather than have presidential candidates like George W. Bush and Mitt Romney actually stretch themselves to win those damnable “urban votes,” Lund’s plan would allow Republicans to only reach out to “their” kind of voters, knowing the deck has already been stacked. And, best of all, they’d be able to win while losing. Mitt Romney, who lost Michigan by more than 400,000 votes in 2012, would have won 9 of the state’s 16 electoral votes under Lund’s scheme.
If that outcome sounds familiar, it should. Republicans have already stacked the deck in Michigan, a right they were given after a dominant 2010 performance. Despite Michiganians casting 200,000 more votes for Democratic Michigan congressional candidates in 2012, we’re still sending 9 Republicans and 5 Democrats to the U.S. House. Never let anyone tell you America is a democracy. It is a representative republic. And the disparity between votes and outcome in the 2012 election, in Michigan and around the country, proves it.
The good news here is two-fold: No one with any position seems to agree with Lund, including Gov. Rick Snyder and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville; and this type of game-rigging is being rejected most everywhere it’s being attempted.
If it’s good for the lame duck…
Over in the Michigan Senate, on the Democratic side of the aisle, State Sen. Glenn Anderson of Westland has an idea that will prevent the flurry of lame duck legislation that saw 282 bills pass between Election Day and the new year: Kill the lame duck. Or at least cripple it so it can’t hurt anybody.
To that effect, Anderson has introduced Senate Joint Resolutions B and C.
“Senate Joint Resolution B … seeks to amend Michigan’s Constitution to provide restrictions on the Legislature, limiting lame-duck sessions to only those issues that are absolutely necessary. The resolution would allow the Legislature to meet after a general election in an even year only in cases of emergency and then only if two-thirds of both the House and Senate vote to hold an emergency session and only to vote on items specified at the outset in a proclamation by the governor. It would demand that all bills passed during the emergency session receive a two-thirds majority for passage, ensuring that only matters agreed to at the outset be dealt with during that time.”
And now on Resolution C:
Senate Joint Resolution C … would stipulate the immunity of appropriations bills does not include legislation that contains substantive policy. It would require policy and appropriation bills to be treated separately, as they should be.
The most charitable reading of Resolution B is that it’s just sour grapes from a guy whose team lost, bad. A less charitable reading has it that Anderson is trying to make what should really be a part-time Legislature even less productive by removing almost two months of lawmaking from the schedule.
Resolution C, however, would prevent the majority party from making its legislation untouchable by voter referendum, as Republicans did with the right-to-work law last year. That is a dirty tactic and it should be put to an end. Honor, apparently, does not bind Michigan Republicans. So the law should.
The sad thing is, both Electoral College reform and lame duck reform are good ideas and, in the case of the latter, necessary. (I agree with reader Carman Conforti, who says that new terms should start sooner and end sooner, so that lawmakers who will never face voters again aren’t allowed to make big choices.)
What’s sad about it is that both Lund’s and Anderson’s plans seem more motivated by what’s good for their respective political teams rather than what’s good for Michigan.
It’s not so much that I expected more — it’s that Michigan actually needs more and its current cast of lawmakers is in no position to provide it.
Our Editorial: Steal the vote plan should disappear.
Zack Pohl: The Republican plot to take Michigan.
The Bill (2011-12 version; Lund hasn’t formally reintroduced it yet): Election-stealing masked as Electoral College reform.