By Lucas Roebuck
True to the Chicago Way, Obama and his merry band of Democrats are using their newfound partisan advantage to increase their control and get a tighter grip on power in Washington, often at the expense of the people they are supposed to represent.
The stimulus bill is mostly just borrowing money from our grandchildren to give cash to the people who fund Democratic campaigns. President Obama's decision to move the census, which decides how many representatives each state gets, away from the Commerce Department and under the White House roof is a new form of gerrymandering to make sure Democrats have an unfair advantage in the House of Representatives. Finally, a grassroots Democratic movement - which has come to Arkansas this week - is an attempt to short-circuit the Constitution itself by undermining the great constitutional compromise to favor the more populous, left-leaning states.
State Rep. Eddie Cooper, D-Melbourne, introduced a bill that will go to a full vote in the Arkansas House this week or next that would pledge Arkansas' electors to whomever wins the national vote.
Besides being a blatant power grab for Democrats (who enjoy fat loyalty margins in America's populous urban centers) if Cooper's idea becomes law, Arkansas basically would be giving up all its say in who becomes president. Small states - whose interests are protected by the Electoral College - will get steamrolled should people like Cooper get their way.
Americans got a civics lesson in 2000 reminding us that it's not the national popular vote total that matters, but rather who wins what states that determines the president. For the Democrats, who lost the White House, the lesson was bitter. Unfortunately, Democrats like Cooper and other state legislators across the country who are trying to bypass the Constitution and centralize power need a history lesson to go with the civics lesson. They have forgotten the constitutional compromise.
In forming our representative government, the framers had to face this question: How do we decide how much say each state has in the affairs of our national government? The smaller states said that each state should have one vote in Congress. That seems fair, right? One state, one vote? Not so fast, said the larger, more populous states. We have more people, so we should have more say. The small states were worried if direct proportional representation were implemented, then their needs and issues would be pushed by the interests of the larger states. The new constitution was at an impasse.
Then came the compromise, which is seen first in how our national legislature is composed. Two houses would have to approve all laws - one that had direct proportional representation (the House) and one in which each state was represented equally (the Senate).
But what about the executive branch? How could the new nation be sure that a president wouldn't just act in the interest of the large population centers? The constitutional compromise was applied to the executive branch as well: Each state would have a say in the election of president that was the same as their representation in Congress - a proportional number of electors like the House plus two electors like the Senate. Even with the compromise, it still takes dozens of small states to equal the population power of states like California and New York.
While he claims, according to press reports, that forcing our electors to go the way of the national popular vote winner will bring more political attention to Arkansas, Cooper's plan emaciates Arkansas' influence in the presidential selection process. Cooper wants to draw more presidential political candidates to Arkansas (which, by the way, hasn't really been a problem).
In 2000, Arkansas voted for George W. Bush. Under Cooper's plan, even though the majority of Arkansans wanted Bush to win and voted for him, they would have been forced to vote for Gore.
Hopefully, this national power grab by the Democrats masquerading as populism will die in the Arkansas House.
Lucas Roebuck is a former managing editor for the Northwest Arkansas Times and the Siloam Springs Herald-Leader.