Abolish the Electoral College?

I've never been one of those knee-jerk "abolish the Electoral College" folks.  After all, the Constitution was very carefully constructed, and keeping a balance between majority and minority interests has always been one of the cornerstones of American Democracy.  Plus, after 2000, it really seemed that calls for EC reform were (mostly) based on one undesirable outcome.  But by now it's apparent that if the Democrats really want election reform, it's going to have to start with a direct election of the president. Why?

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What is the Blue Culture?

Even though it's barely ten days old, I have to admit I'm getting kind of tired of the current "Culture War." Admittedly, part of my irritation is the (likely temporary) regionalism that blames the South for Kerry's defeat while ignoring the losses in Ohio, Iowa, and Indiana.  But more substantial, though, is that I'm not quite sure which "culture" the Democrats are defending.

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Anti-South Backlash

There's been a lot of anti-South backlash the last few days, with folks pointing out the similarities between the electoral map and the politics of the War of Northern Aggression.  But the fact is that the Late Unpleasantness has nothing whatsoever to do with voting for Bush, and blaming "racist and bigoted Southerners" for our loss is counter-productive and just hurts our chances for 2008.  Because the people who voted against us in Tennessee are many of the same people who voted against us in Iowa, Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.

A wise man once said that Pennsylvania consists of Philadelphia in the east, Pittsburgh in the west, and Alabama in the middle.  True enough, and the only thing that kept Pennsylvania from going red was Philadelphia County's 400,000 Kerry margin.  Or put another way, only 20% of Pennsylvania's counties (compared to 19% in my home state of Tennessee) went Democratic.  You've got a red state there folks, with a big blob of blue tacked on at the river. (Santorum, anyone?)

The North voted for Kerry not because it's somehow more tolerant, more inclusive, more caring, less racist, or less evangelical.  No--the North voted for Kerry because it has larger cities.  And we've nearly squeezed the maximum amount of blue from those cities.  The only way to make Pennsylvania more blue is to try to appeal to the same voters we're rejecting out of hand in the South.  

So instead of writing off the South completely, out of some belief that its Bush supporters are qualitatively different from the Bush supporters north of the Mason-Dixon line, we need to find ways to appeal to rural voters as a whole. And please notice that I am not talking about the religion thing.  We are not a party of religious fundamentalists and we can never compete with that.  But if we start condemning rural voters in the South for their values, we will also alienate rural voters everywhere else. So let's quit with the regional stereotypes and start figuring out ways to appeal to a broad spectrum of voters who live in rural and urban areas alike.


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