Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Where Do All the Young Folks Go?

The election map, HRC vs. DJT, shows a heavy skew of Democratic voters lodged particularly in the large urban clusters on both the East and West Coasts, add Chicago and some neighbors, with red/GOP in the rest of the country. Although the 2010 Census clearly establishes the United States as 80%+ urban (which will expand in the 2020 Census) – a steady trend from the 1920s when the country first tilted away from a majority rural population – those powerful urban areas are, for the most part, heavily concentrated in some very specific, high density areas. Since American political power is pretty much constitutionally relegated to those land masses we call “states,” cities are clearly second-rate political constituencies.
It is equally clear that the future of employment opportunities are predicated on much higher levels of skills than we have seen in the past, something under-educated workers are learning the hard way. Donald Trump’s promises notwithstanding, we aren’t going to see a massive uptick in semi-skilled blue collar workers, from coal miners to steel workers to down-and-dirty manufacturing laborers. That which can be digitized or automated will be.
While not all of the 86 million American Millennials – the largest and best educated generation in American history – have college degrees, 59% of this cohort have at least received some college education. By 2020, Millennials will constitute half of the national workforce and 40% of the eligible voters.
But when thinking about how polarized we have become, there are some very interesting, if not alarming, education-related trends we need to look at. As pointed out in my recent Farmageddon blog, there is an immutable and powerful bias in our constitution (and most state constitutions) – in the very make-up of our legislative bodies and how voting is configured – that minimizes urban votes and enhances, rather disproportionately, rural votes. So to the extent that someone living in a rural-values constituency leaves to go to one of those large urban clusters, they are significantly diluting the power of their vote.
The trend lines are rather clear, however, as will be illustrated later, that those with college degrees are increasingly likely to migrate to heavy urban areas, particularly where there are clusters of cities as are found in the strip of cities down the West Coast and the Northeast. Opportunities are perceived to be much greater where there are groups of vital cities in close proximity as opposed to more rural states with one or maybe two modest-sized cities rather isolated from those larger clusters.
While there was much movement in the United States until well-past WWII expansion, that cross-state movement has declined significantly. Where that movement continues is, however, fascinating. And while urban clusters may be where the future jobs are, the higher cost of living associated with those cities creates yet another barrier to those without the skillsets to afford to live there.
“[In] the 1980s, people started moving less. Internal migration has been in gradual decline ever since across all demographic groups. In the 1980s, 3 percent of men moved across state lines each year; over the last decade that figure has dropped to 1.7 percent. The decline is similar for women. Between 2001 and 2010, the demographic groups with the lowest rate of interstate migration were people with less than a high school diploma (1 percent) or nothing beyond a high school diploma (1.2 percent). Migration rates for college-educated people were roughly twice that.
“In the regional competition for the most skilled and most mobile workers in America, noncoastal states are at a disadvantage. Although they have some large cities, they tend to be farther from other large cities than is the case in the coastal areas. The economists Stuart Rosenthal and William Strange looked at the benefits of density and found that they tend to dissipate over distances greater than five miles.
“This advantage provided by clusters of cities is helpful for coastal states, which tend to contain many big metro areas, like San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose and San Francisco in California, or the so-called Acela corridor stretching from Washington to Boston. But it can be bad news for inland areas with one or two large cities that are farther apart: Omaha and Kansas City, Mo., say; or Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio.
“The flows of young college graduates out of a state can often be replaced by flows of young college graduates moving in. The problem that many interior states face is that young college graduates moving into the state aren’t keeping up with those that are leaving.
“‘Lots of talented young people all over the country are eager to see new sights — what is different, and a problem for Michigan is that we have an unusually low rate of immigration,’ said Charley Ballard, a regional economist at Michigan State University, in an email.
“Keeping young college graduates would help alleviate the effects of globalization and technological change on these local economies. It’s not surprising that many states with net losses in their young and college-educated populations also showed some big gains for Donald J. Trump relative to Mitt Romney’s performance in 2012.” TheUpshot, New York Times, November 22nd.
Europe is much more aligned with determining political power focused on its urban clusters; they have had an opportunity to configure their constitutions in accordance with post-WWII realities, while the United States is operating with immutable structures created prior to 1800. Their big cities rule; ours do not.
And there are exceptions to that American migration phenomenon notes above, particularly in high cost urban states that produce a disproportionate number of college grads (e.g., New York and Massachusetts), but the rule is more than dissettling  to those red states that are losing their best and brightest to those blue urban clusters.
Generally, Rust Belt and Midwest states like Ohio, Michigan and Iowa, and Plains states like South Dakota and Nebraska have seen the largest net losses in younger, college-educated people… The places that are gaining college graduates tend to be coastal and Southern states like California, Maryland, Texas and South Carolina…
“One reason that inland states have a reasonable case for disappointment at not keeping their young college graduates: They’re helping to pay to educate them. A majority of college graduates get their degrees from public universities, which are partly funded by state governments. Of course this doesn’t diminish the other important benefits that public universities bring to each state’s economy, but if states are losing more college graduates than they are holding or bringing in, they’re effectively subsidizing other states’ skilled labor forces.
“Cities in these states do have some advantages. The cost of living is lower, mostly because housing is cheaper. Outdoor recreation is often more accessible. Still, these areas are in a bind: Without jobs to offer, luring young college-educated people is hard. At the same time, it’s hard to create jobs without a college-educated labor force.
“To Mr. Ballard, it’s not clear that one policy proposal exists that could jump-start the process. ‘It really is a chicken-and-egg problem,’ he said. ‘I don’t think there’s anybody out there that thinks there’s some quick, easy solution.’
“In the days when cities competed for manufacturing, advertising low wages and reliable utilities was often enough to draw businesses. Mr. Ballard pins his hopes of attracting more young, college-educated workers to Michigan on efforts to market cultural amenities and natural beauty. He points to the Grand Rapids Art Prize, an arts festival that awards half a million dollars to artists, as something that has brought some cultural cachet to that city, Michigan’s second largest... ‘It’s not all about jobs,’ Mr. Ballard said. ‘You’ve got to have it be a place where people want to live.’” NY Times.
To depolarize the United States, if that is still possible, creating high-level jobs and keeping local college grads in less urban states would seem to be as important as figuring out how to reduce the cost of college as a burden on lower and middle class families. Whether our policy-makers recognize this issue or are willing to deal with it may be an entirely different question. Did I mention… “it’s the economy, stupid”?
I’m Peter Dekom, and without more balance and spreading the future hope to more parts of America, the ability to hold the United States united becomes an increasingly difficult mandate.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Welcome to Pit Bull Management Style

It a pretty old technique, one that has permeated Hollywood studios and talent agencies for decades. It’s called the “pit bull” theory of management, and it is predicated on keeping managers on their toes, competitive as well as profoundly insecure and deeply dependent. Give two people the same job… just give those jobs a different label… and see who survives and thrives. Encourage in-fighting. Dump the loser. In the bankruptcy/turnaround world, hire managers whose values and culture are completely the opposite of the company they are about to take over.
Hire a manager who sends an underlying threat-survival message to all below him (occasionally “her”) on the corporate hierarchy. We are looking to keep “winners” and fire “losers” is the new reality. Fire a few for effect. Reward those who are willing to turn on those around them. Play it close to the vest; don’t give underlings too much information – make them rely on you. When one gets a bit arrogant and uppity, under the guise of a promotion, move him or her to another position where they are less entrenched… or just get rid of them, promoting a grateful and now super-loyal junior manager to take over.
According to psychologists, intermittent reinforcement/reward motivates the most. Consistent rewards do not. So guess what, pit bull management buffs, inconsistent but intermittent reinforcement, accompanied by occasional ego slams, humiliations and rebukes, is an essential part of pit bull management. Instability is good. Keeping executives on their toes, looking over their shoulders is good. Changing direction, the rules and the playing field, shaking stuff up just because, helps keeping execs giving their all. Change the inner circle from time to time. Let people know everything they do is being measured and monitored. After all, workers become what they are measured to do.
Does any of this sound familiar? Remember any of this from any reality shows that have gained popularity over the past few years? Like The Apprentice? “You’re fired!” “Loser!” For those who complain that Donald J. Trumps transition is muddled and conflicted, seemingly without direction of consistency, so he must not know what he is doing… well, that transition is in fact muddled and conflicted, seemingly without direction of consistency, but Donald Trump knows exactly what he is doing. It is his management style, and we just better get used to it. It will define the executive branch of the federal government for his entire term.
Chris Christie rises, then falls, then reappears. Rudy Giuliani is a sure thing for Secretary of State. Loyal, loud and brash. But then former-Trump opponent and former presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, steps in… as most of the loyal Trump forces chime in, particularly his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, to kill that choice. But Trump slams her in his merry destabilizing effort. Meanwhile, son-in-law (Ivanka’s husband), Jared Kushner, becomes Trump’s “eye in the sky” watching over his father-in-law’s retinue, the ultimate monitor with an equal proclivity to punish those who have crossed him or his family. 
To make those around him shudder and quiver with fear, many of his appointments and nominees are making the federal agencies they will head wince with dread. Here are a few of those choices:
“As Trump now begins the process of staffing his administration, his pick to head the transition team at the EPA, Myron Ebell, offers more insight into the future of U.S. climate policy… Ebell, a leading contrarian of the scientific consensus on global warming, leads environmental and energy policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian advocacy group financed in part by the fossil fuel industry. Ebell also helps chair the Cooler Heads Coalition, a group which describes its mission as ‘dispelling the myths of global warming.’ He’s been described as ‘enemy #1’ to the climate change community, and his own bio highlights how he has been named a ‘climate criminal’ by Greenpeace.
“Ebell has been instrumental in crafting a national strategy challenging research showing that global warming is both man-made and real. The action plan, drawn up in 1998, said victory would be achieved when the public recognized ‘uncertainties in climate science.’ As head of the EPA transition, Ebell will play a leading role in choosing personnel and shaping the future of government agencies that deal with environmental and climate policy.”, November 14th. Bye bye Paris accord. The U.S. will be one of the few nations to disavow man-induced climate change. But wait, there’s so much more.
“Stephen Bannon, who will be the chief strategist in the White House, is not a cable talking head, but he ran [conservative platform] Breitbart until August and he had his own radio show.” Washington Post, November 29th. Bannon is a darling of the extreme white Christian supremacist movement – known as the “Alt Right” – sending fear through equal justice/human rights advocates everywhere. That appointment will destabilize for sure.
Alabama Senator, ultra-right-wing-conservative, Jeff Sessions is Trump’s choice for Attorney General. When then-President Ronald Reagan nominated Sessions to the federal bench in 1986, concern about some pretty racist statements quickly quashed that appointment. Talk about changing the culture at the Department of Justice: For starters, forget about aggressive protection of civil rights, and of voting rights in particular. Mr. Sessions has called the Voting Rights Act of 1965 a ‘piece of intrusive legislation.’ Under him, the department would most likely focus less on prosecutions of minority voter suppression and more on rooting out voter fraud, that hallowed conservative myth. As a federal prosecutor, Mr. Sessions brought voter-fraud charges against three civil rights workers trying to register black voters in rural Alabama. The prosecution turned up 14 allegedly doctored ballots out of 1.7 million cast, and the jury voted to acquit.
“Forget, also, any federal criminal-justice reform, which was on the cusp of passage in Congress before Mr. Trump’s ‘law and order’ campaign. Mr. Sessions strongly opposed bipartisan legislation to scale back the outrageously harsh sentences that filled federal prisons with low-level drug offenders. Instead, he called for more mandatory-minimum sentences and harsher punishments for drug crimes.” New York Times, November 18th. Anyone out there a member of a minority worried about equal justice?
For all those who have benefited under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) – almost 20 million Americans – who are wondering if they will still have coverage as Congress debates the “repeal and replace” mantra, Trump’s choice for head of Health and Human Services has to be deeply troubling. Trump selected Tom Price, a six-term GOP Georgia congressman, one of the most outspoken Obamacare critics. He just wants it gone.
Trump has selected bankruptcy/workout investor, billionaire Wilbur Ross, to be his Commerce Secretary. Bankruptcy investors have to be the meanest pit bulls anywhere, callous to the layoffs, prior investor losses, creditor claims their takeovers almost always create… all to line the pockets of the new investors coming to fix the damaged company they are taking over. And Mr. Ross and his company have a checkered past, not unlike that of Mr. Trump himself. “In August, Ross’ firm agreed to reimburse investors $11.8 million and pay a fine of $2.3 million to settle a Securities and Exchange Commission probe into the company’s misappropriation of fees… Investors in WL Ross’ fund were wrongly assessed the fees from 2001 to 2011, the SEC found.” New York Post, November 15th. Ross paid the fine and admitted no wrongdoing. Would you feel warm and fuzzy if you were working at Commerce? Think of all those trade agreements Mr. Trump wants to kill.
Amid suggestions that perhaps the entire Department of Education should be disbanded and that all educational matters should be remanded to and funded solely by the individual states, Mr. Trump’s choice for Education Secretary, another billionaire, is Betsy DeVos, someone with an inherent bias against public education itself. “DeVos [is] chair of the national pro-school choice advocacy group American Federation for Children... The organization has fought to preserve Florida’s voucher policies, including a 15-year-old tax-credit scholarship program that lets low-income children attend private schools.”, November 23rd.
School vouchers seriously undermine public schools, since voucher money comes directly out of public school budgets. And despite the statements that these vouchers offer disadvantaged students better schools, it is precisely this lower socio-economic segment that is completely unprepared to deal with the complexity of school evaluation, applications and selection. The voucher system benefits almost exclusively those much higher on the food chain.
This list of intentionally unsettling appointments will continue. Contradictions may puzzle Trump critics, but they will continue to delight and amuse Mr. Trump and his even-more-conservative Vice President, Michael Pence. The problem with running government with what are fundamentally business values is that the goal of business, maximizing investor profits, is not the metric of a successful government. The stakeholders in government are not shareholders; they are people, many of them hanging on by a slender thread, feeling unrepresented and marginalized. They are not part of the 1% that will receive almost 97% of Trump’s tax cuts; they depend on the government services Mr. Trump will extinguish as their lifeline. But welcome to Trump-world… and it may be one of the unfriendiest places on earth… particularly for those under-educated, under- or unemployed white rust belt and coal workers hoping for a miracle that Trump-world simply is not built to provide.
I’m Peter Dekom, and we really need to understand that what seems disorganized and conflicted is actually at the heart of the way Donald Trump intends to run the United States during his tenure… get used to it!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Actual Letter Sent to Four California Mosques

I’m Peter Dekom, and as the number of hate threats and actual crimes escalate, I wonder exactly whose country this really is.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The “Brutal Dictator” is Dead

But at 90 years-of-age at the time of his death, Fidel Castro was just a feeble old man who had handed over governance to his younger Raul years before. Yes, Fidel was brutal, but his biggest crimes to America were his close ties to the Soviet Union (remember the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, where Russia tried to plant missiles right next to the US?) and his communist confiscation of wealth, businesses and land belonging to the upper and middle classes in 1959 and beyond… most of whom fled to the United States, particularly to the Miami area.
That United States was more than willing, for most of the post WWII decades, to support brutal dictators, from Saddam Hussein, Augusto Pinochet, the Duvalier family, Suharto, Muhammad Reza Pahlavi… well, if I listed them all, there would be no room for this blog. Mere brutal repression of its own citizens was hardly a basis for denying U.S. support. No, what made Castro and Cuba a special case was its proximity to our coast and the passionate and financially powerful Cuban old guard who settled mostly in Florida. Look at all the countries in Asia, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and even Europe where we maintain diplomatic relations, and often with military and humanitarian aid policies. Military aid that is often used in civilian suppression.
As third generation Cuban-Americans are born, as younger ethnic Cubans are replacing the old guard, that powerful, almost always Republican, constituency, tolerance and a desire to reopen and normalize relations with that island nation have rapidly displaced much of that hostility that marked American-Cuban relations for over half a century. The Obama administration did much to begin that normalization process, one that still has serious economic sanctions in place… which are (were?) slowly being pushed aside. But the old guard is still angry and loud.
Until the most recent election. The meaning of “Make America Great Again” carried the rather clear mandate to return the United States to its policies and economic postures of the 1950s through the 1980s, a seemingly impossible effort to turn the clock back. And one of those potential mandates was to undo the normalization process with Cuba begun under the Obama administration. That Donald Trump marked Fidel’s passing by calling him a “brutal dictator” and hoping that Cuba would move to a “free future” is not a particularly good omen for continued progress between these nations. Raul Castro runs Cuba; it is hardly a democracy nor are there democratic movements afoot to depose the current administration.
Having ties only with democracies and free societies is hardly a requirement for workable ties between such countries and the United States. We have formal diplomatic relations and solid trade agreements with countries run by absolute monarchs, dictators and de facto one-party states. Brutality is everywhere. That we were at war with a country or had hostile conflicts is equally a non-starter. We have ties with Germany, Italy, China, Turkey, Vietnam… all representing nations of conflict in the 20th century, and if you want to back far enough, England. In fact, in each of the above circumstances, for each country noted, we reestablished diplomatic ties within a vastly shorter period than our separation from Cuba.
Mr. Trump stated that the United States would not be involved so much in movements to foment regime change. But does that include Cuba? Is Mr. Trump’s loyalty to his Cuban-American business partners in Florida, the dying old guard of still-angry Cubans living in Miami and environs, or to what’s best for America? Europeans and Canadians have been building business ties in Cuba for years, much to the consternation of America businesses who have not been given a level playing field to compete there by their own country. Will he undo what has been accomplished to date by the Obama administration? Mr. Trump is sending a mixed message.
“‘While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve,’ Mr Trump said in a statement.
“Barack Obama, under whom the US restored diplomatic ties with Havana after decades of tension, said history would ‘record and judge the enormous impact’ of Castro.
“The US had ‘worked hard to put the past behind us’ and was extending ‘a hand of friendship to the Cuban people’ at this time, he said.”, November 26th.
“Trump also issued a statement that said, ‘The world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.’
“Sitting President Barack Obama, who has worked to restore U.S. relations with Cuba, also commented on Castro’s death in a statement that concludes, ‘Today, we offer condolences to Fidel Castro’s family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people. In the days ahead, they will recall the past and also look to the future. As they do, the Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America.’” Variety, November 26th. Unless Donald Trump lives up to his pledge to the old guard in Miami to back off Obama’s policies…
Indeed, that vociferous Miami old guard has a powerful voice in a former GOP presidential candidate and U.S. Senator, who suggests that the continuing Republican majority in both houses of Congress combined with a retrograde presidency are not going to be good for normalizing Cuban-American relations: “Sen. Marco Rubio did not mince words when he weighed in on Castro’s death on Saturday. The Florida Republican called Castro an ‘evil, murderous dictator who inflicted misery and suffering on his own people’ and turned Cuba into an ‘impoverished island prison.’
“‘Sadly, Fidel Castro’s death does not mean freedom for the Cuban people or justice for the democratic activists, religious leaders, and political opponents he and his brother have jailed and persecuted,’ Rubio said in a statement. ‘The dictator has died, but the dictatorship has not.’” Washington Post, November 26th. Rubio most certainly does not speak to the feelings of the majority of Americans.
Isn’t the passing of Fidel Castro enough of a change for now? It is time not only to continue the normalization process but to accelerate it. It has to be what’s best for America and not just embittered, myopic and tiny special interests.
I’m Peter Dekom, and the best interests of the United States can no longer be governed by a bunch of really old men and women, a tiny but powerful minority, living in and around Miami.

Friday, November 25, 2016


We’ve just witnessed the fourth election in American history where a president was elected by the Electoral College while losing the popular vote. A mechanism created in the earliest days of our country, where distances were vast (votes were hard to count and recount) and community leaders deeply respected. It was a reflection of a deeply rural America, noting that in 1790, 95% of the country was rural agricultural. That was the time when our current governmental structures were being formulated. Thomas Jefferson, a farmer himself as well as the principal architect of the constitution, was highly suspicious of cities, fearing that growing urban clusters could someday overwhelm sparsely populated farming communities.
Debates raged, but in the end the Connecticut (some call it the New Jersey) Compromise made sure that the sparsely populated farming states would have the same clout as those more heavily-populated trading/manufacturing states with large cities and towns. At least in the US Senate, the body charged with approving senior presidential appointments and treaties, where two Senators were allotted to each state. Today, Montana, with about a million people, has the same number of Senators as California, with thirty eight million. The House, where districts were to be drawn by the states themselves, was based on population and charged with initiating any appropriations bills… the power of the purse.
While the Constitution continues to provide rural structures for Congress, we have become an essentially urban nation, like most of the developed world. The nation moved passed the 50% rural stage way back in the 1920s and “urban” dwellers passed 80% in 2010. Our founding fathers wanted to make sure dem city-slickers never ran America.
“And they made sure the compromise stuck. Today, equal state representation in the Senate is the only provision in the Constitution that cannot be amended. But even as a deliberately undemocratic body, the Senate has slipped further out of alignment with the American population over time.
“The Senate hasn’t simply favored sparsely populated states; politicians in Washington created sparsely populated states to leverage the Senate’s skewed power… ‘When we talk about small-state bias, all of that was an intentional policy choice,’ said Jowei Chen, a political scientist at the University of Michigan. Republicans in Congress passed the 1862 Homestead Act, offering free land to settlers who would move to territories that would eventually become states — creating more Senate seats and Electoral College votes for a Republican Party eager to keep government control away from Southern Democrats. They even managed to divide the Dakota Territory into two states, worth twice the political power.
“As the Plains later depopulated and American cities, then suburbs, swelled, the Senate became even more unrepresentative.
“Jeffersonian suspicion of big cities also appears in the sites of state capitals: Albany and not New York; Jefferson City and not St. Louis; Springfield and not Chicago. Political scientists at the University of California, Davis, have found that most state capitals were located near what was then the population centroid of each state — typically closer to the geographical center of the state, and not the place where the most people already lived, breaking with how much of the world sited its capitals.
“The state legislatures there also grew significantly less representative as America urbanized. In 1961, when lawyers in Tennessee brought what would be a seminal case before the Supreme Court challenging the practice, the state legislature had not reapportioned its districts to reflect population change in 60 years. Maryland was still using districts drawn in 1867.
“Even states that had constitutions requiring equal population districts were ignoring them. Florida, Georgia and New Mexico gave small counties 100 times the voting power of the most populous ones. In California, Amador County (population 14,294) had the same representation in the state’s Senate as Los Angeles County (population 6,038,771).” Emily Badger writing for the November 20th New York Times.
Even with a massive realignment in demographics expected in the 2020 Census (the basis for redistricting), it would seem that nothing short of a revolution – or at least tearing down our entire government and rebuilding it – is going to lessen the rural bias of our system of government. Even with the immutable provision of the constitution, the rest of that document remains the most difficult to amend in the democratic world. Here is some more wisdom from those skeptical founding fathers:
“The Electoral College is just one example of how an increasingly urban country has inherited the political structures of a rural past. Today, states containing just 17 percent of the American population, a historic low, can theoretically elect a Senate majority, Dr. Lee said. The bias also shapes the House of Representatives.
“It exists, as a result, in the formulas that determine where highway funds are spent or who gets Homeland Security dollars. It exists in state capitols, where bills preferred by urban delegations have been much more likely to be rejected.
“Today, the influence of rural voters also evokes deeply rooted ideals about who should have power in America. Jefferson and James Madison argued that the strength of the nation would always derive from its agrarian soil.
“‘They had this vision of what they called the ‘yeoman farmer’: this independent, free-standing person who owed nothing to anybody, who didn’t receive any payments from the government, who didn’t live by a wage, but who could support himself and his family on a farm growing everything they needed — and that these were the people who were going to be the backbone of democracy,’ said Gerald Gamm, a political scientist at the University of Rochester, describing what could be the forefathers of the rural voters who tilted this year’s election…
“By the mid-20th century, no state approximated majority rule. America at the time, Dr. Ansolabehere and James M. Snyder Jr. wrote in their book ‘The End of Inequality,’ had some of the most unequal representation in the world. A series of Supreme Court cases beginning with that Tennessee complaint upended this system and established the standard that equal representation means ‘one person, one vote.’ Not one town, one vote. Or one county, one senator. Only the United States Senate, protected by the Constitution, remained unchanged.
“Still, the House retains a rural bias. Republican voters are more efficiently distributed across the country than Democrats, who are concentrated in cities. That means that even when Democrats win 50 percent of voters nationwide, they invariably hold fewer than 50 percent of House seats, regardless of partisan gerrymandering.
“The Electoral College then allocates votes according to a state’s congressional delegation: Wyoming (with one House representative and two senators) gets three votes; California (53 representatives and two senators) gets 55. Those two senators effectively give Wyoming three times more power in the Electoral College than its population would suggest. Apply the same math to California and it would have 159 Electoral College votes. And the entire state of Wyoming already has fewer residents than the average California congressional district.
“In Washington, these imbalances directly influence who gets what, through small-state minimums (no state can receive below a certain share of education funding) and through formulas that privilege rural states (early road spending was doled out in part by land area and not road use).” NY Times.
There are almost no “Yeoman Farmers” left, but their system of government remains. While Europe has distributed is modern representational structures to focus on political units based on large urban areas, the United States is hopelessly mired in a “rural values first” political system. So as we seek to heal the wounds of political rancor that have marked the recent presidential election, hopes for finding that middle ground, solid traditional American compromise, appear increasingly dim… exacerbated by a political system predicated on unequal voting power… even as a minority party, the GOP, continues to practice voter suppression, from voter IDs, gerrymandering, to simply making sure the polling stations are located mainly in neighborhoods where they dominate.
I’m Peter Dekom, and the more Americans understand their own political system, the better the better they will be prepared to deal with it.