Thursday, February 7, 2013

Electioneering II

Dominic Pileggi, Pa. State Senator, Wants to Rig Elections in Pa. to Favor Republicans

Voice of the Mountain

by Shawn K. Inlow

The shifty guy peering at you from the masthead above is Pennsylvania State Senator - a republican and Speaker of the Senate - Dominic Pileggi.

According to stories HERE and HERE among many others, Pileggi thinks the idea of changing the way Pennsylvania delegates electoral college votes would be awesome.  Instead of being a winner-take-all state, where whoever, you know, WINS the popular vote in the state gets the electoral votes, Pileggi would like to see the Commonwealth go to a proportional system that would split electors.  This is something only two other states, Maine and Nebraska, do.

Two things on this from The Mountain.  

One:  Pennsylvania has voted democratic in national elections since 1992, yet our state representation, despite a heavy democratic advantage in voter registration, is overwhelmingly republican.  You may find this hard to believe, but only 37% of Pennsylvanians are registered as republican.

Two:  You don't want Pennsylvania becoming an electoral joke like, say, Florida in 2000.  Or how about when the republicans screwed up the Iowa caucuses so badly in 2012 that they first came out and said Mitt Romney won.  Then they came out and said, no, really, Rick Santorum won.  And by the time the delegates were counted Ron Paul actually got 21 of the 25 Iowa delegates.

There are six "swing" states that are not really swinging:  Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida.  All went blue this past election but guess what - all of them are controlled by republicans at the state level thanks to a concerted, organized gerrymandering process that allows republicans to win control even if they lose the popular vote.

Nationally, democrats won 1.1 million more votes for the House of Representatives but, guess what?  There is still a solid republican majority in the house.  Nationally, Obama won 5 million more votes and 126 more electoral votes than Romney, but the plan some sneaky republicans are putting forward would have turned an Obama landslide into a Romney victory.

Here is some pretty good reporting on the issue:
National Journal: The GOP's Electoral College Scheme

And some more:
Fair Vote: Electoral College Chaos - How the GOP Could Put a Lock on the Presidency

And here's a great analysis of the state of play in Pennsylvania from Nate Silver at Five-Thirty-Eight:
Pennsylvania Could be a Path Forward for the GOP

The reporting shows that republican policy makers have gotten together and decided to change the rules of the game.  And they've made noises in the aforementioned not-swinging-swing-states about upsetting the electoral apple cart and using their gerrymandered advantages and projecting the same advantage onto the national electoral stage.

With all the publicity, republican officials in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia and Florida have all been carefully stepping away from the idea.

Pa Governor Tom Corbett: Not Leslie Nielsen
But NOT in Pennsylvania.  Nope.  When not even idiots like Scott Walker in Wisconsin can stomach the clearly partisan vote-rigging scheme.  When not even the nut-bag republican state officials who have twice passed a law (despite voters voting its repeal) to simply take over towns with appointed managers - when even republicans who truly don't give a shit about the will of the voters start to edge away from the idea...Along comes THIS guy (right) who may look like Leslie Nielsen but is nowhere near as funny.

Dom Pileggi: Stooge
And here (left) is the republican speaker of the Pennsylvania Senate, Dom Pileggi, who has been floating this idea for a while about changing the election rules we've always gone by.  This, dear reader, is what a stooge looks like.

Look.  The Mountain says there's nothing wrong with proportional vote counting, such as Mr. Pileggi advocates.  But there is something wrong with doing it selectively.  I would agree with the state senator if we were going to implement a one person one vote system nationwide.  Let's have proportional voting in Texas, because pretty soon that state ain't gonna be so red anymore and when Texas goes purple the republican party will be over.

Unless they cheat.  Which is possible.  It'd be like playing monopoly where the republican race car passes go and every other time around he also gets the democratic thimble's $200.  Couldn't even put a down payment on Baltic Avenue.

THIS is your state government on unlimited secret corporate funding.  You're welcome.  Look.  Republicans do this stuff all the time.  If they can't win out with their ideas, they just go and try to rig the game.  This kind of concerted, corporate scheme smells bad to anyone who believes in fairness regardless of party affiliation.  This is the republican party hurting itself!

And the republicans seem never to get tired of spending their money on the endless games of trying to overturn regulation or getting people into key functionary positions to cripple regulations that are in place for good reasons.  The money is bottomless.  And it is tireless.  And it just keeps on coming all the time.

My father always said that republicans were for the rich and that democrats were for the little guy.  In retrospect, I'm finding out he was always right.  And it's really more black and white now than it was when he was alive.  I used to think he was foolish, being so dogmatic.

Thankfully, even though republican money never sleeps, that money cannot make bad ideas into good ones.  And thankfully there are far more little fish than big ones.  The problem is the big ones are on up the food chain and everyone is afraid of them and they are buying up the government that is supposed to represent all of us.

But, you know, if Dom Pileggi gets his way, the will of the majority will no longer count for anything in his perfect world.  Thirty-seven percent of Pennsylvania voters are republicans.  And they get to call all the shots.  That's America.

Shawn Inlow
Osceola Mills, Pa.


  1. Can't agree with you on this one. (not the jerrymandering issue, which BTW both parties do. Check out some of the seats in New York, California and Mass.) Electoral votes should be based on Congressional districts in every state. Why should our votes here in Central PA be made meaningless due to the simple fact that Philly is inside our borders? I was against Nebraska going winner take all a couple of years ago just to keep the DNC from getting the Omaha Electoral vote, I am for PA making my vote meaningful.

    1. Good comments, Mr. Wilson, and I agree with you part way. Pa. is a critical state in the coming elections based on some of Nate Silver's writing which I linked to. So Pileggi's effort is strategic. Nobody's recommending the same thing in states like Texas or Mississippi or Louisiana or Kansas.

      As it stands, almost no states do it the way Pileggi wants to do it. And I, for one, am tired of being represented by one party when most of the votes are for the other. The republicans in Pa. have gotten so audacious with the gerrymandering process that they're ensuring a permanent republican rule in our state when only 37% of the voters identify with them. Having consolidated that power, they wanna export it to the national stage. In total, it's dirty pool.

      If they wanna do it here, I suggest they do it everywhere and then I'm fine with it. But don't pull that junk in swing states when you know Alabama democrats are not getting the same treatment.


    2. I'm not willing to wait for other states to grow a brain stem, got enough to worry about just trying to get my own state in line. Pileggi is doing this for party political reasons for sure, but it's something that should have been done long ago so I'm pretty much taking the stance of "Do it Faster"

      Also tossing that 37% number around will get you a job with MSNBC. It is misleading while being technically true. The DNC doesn't fare much better in polls that ask party name, and if you take away the issues and simply ask policy questions neither party does well.

    3. SW

      The statistic is neither misleading nor "technically" true. It's just true. I pulled it from the Pennsylvania website. There are 8.2 million registered voters in Pennsylvania. 3.05 million are republican (37%). 4.12 million (about 50%)are democratic. That leaves 13% who identify as other. You might be libertarian and I wish the republicans would listen to the wisdom of the libertarian reasoning. I am a very odd duck, being "green" party because I'm all about the environment. But there are plenty of people who choose an independent stance, like I do, that leans left and plenty who choose an independent stance and lean right as, perhaps, a libertarian might. Still, according to Nate Silver's article (linked) Pennsylvania is one of the least "elastic" states in the nation, meaning we don't vote across party lines very much. Enter Mr. Pileggi, who wants to get some electoral love regardless of the majority. You might dislike Pa. going democratic in national elections, but you enjoy a republican hegemony in local elections.


  2. A wise old pol named Tip O'Neill said that all politics are local. And boy, was he right. By controlling things at the local level, the GOP maintains power in state houses in these swing states.
    Oh, and by the way, our esteemed Governor currently has the lowest approval ratings EVER!
    Not just 'ever' in his term, but 'ever' in the historical sense.

  3. I think that anyone does a disservice to brand anything arbitrarily as Democrat versus Republican. My late father was hired as a salaried employee at Hammermill in Lock Haven as a power superintendant many years ago and suffered for having to go into work during the strike, because he was not a union employee. When he learned that they were locking out the union employees, he called and warned them. I was in high school at the time and lost contact with a dear friend, because he was not 'allowed' to communicate with me, given the nonsense of the strike. Being conservative and demanding accountability of human behavior does not arbitrarily make me a Republican, as Shawn can attest (we registered Green together). He chose, as a responsible father and husband, to go to work to provide for his family. I find that the nonsense of political correctness feeds only the lawyers, looking to make a buck....


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