Dear Big Daddy,
I’m sick of living in a state where my vote doesn’t count. Why shouldn’t California give out electoral votes by congressional district?
—Concerned citizen in Irvine
Dear OC opportunist,
A wiser man than me (giving you a nice wide range there) once said that if you want to take the Bible seriously, you can’t always take it literally. Whether he was speaking of that water-to-wine bit or dreaming of his neighbor’s wife, I can’t say…though I suspect the latter.
Documents age—and the mere existence of the term “aging gracefully” implies that most aging is anything but. Ideas, like people, tend to acquire wrinkles and “senior moments.” A succession of modern ages have given the Bible the kind of interpretation we’re liable to give poor old grandpa—ignoring him when convenient, especially when he tells us to put an onion around our neck for good luck during a gibbous moon unless we see a crow flying north etc…
We all know there are tons of folks who go to church every Sunday yet have things in a box under the bed that would make, well, me blush. And then there’s those who’ve figured out that the Bible never specifically mentions Folsom Street, and Leviticus has nothing to say on the matter of hiding your wedding ring in the trunk next to the tire iron.
And if that’s the kind of respect we give the Bible, pity the poor Constitution. It too is filled with ambiguous language—one product of having more authors than an “I resolve babies are cute” measure working it’s way through the Assembly in an election year. While many conservatives today like to tell us the founding fathers were Christian fundamentalists like themselves, the truth is that most were muddleheaded hemp-farming New Age dreamers—and that may be a little scarier. They wrote a few drafts, had a few draughts, and never came back to fill in the holes.
While the Bible has a sizable posse, it lacks the nine reapers the Constitution has in its back pocket (it only owns five of those). So you can’t just ignore the Constitution, but there’s plenty of room to create mischief around the margins. And if the Constitution is interfering with your lifestyle, you’re liable to interpret it a little liberally—especially if your lifestyle involves running the country.
The Electoral College might be the biggest bit of muddled thinking the founders left us—bigger than that the 2nd Amendment, that tortured little bit of Americana that’s more ambiguously worded than a “Dear John” letter to a hitman. Our dumbest college has left the states and the feds in the sort of relationship a codependent commitment-phobe might design. It offsets built-in inequities with even worse built-in inequities, along with escape clauses that are liable to burn you if you act on them.
Now you, I, and its sponsors all know better than to believe this initiative is about fairness. Nothing in politics ever is. The GOP said they’re concerned about disenfranchised voters everywhere, not just the 4.4 million California Bush voters in 2006 but the similar number of Dukakis voters in 1988.
Funny their concerns don’t extend to the millions of frustrated Democrats currently living in my old home of Texas—where Dems should have been putting their own vote-stealing efforts, not the college towns of North Carolina. When you get right down to it, this whole thing seems to be predicated on the idea that Democrats don’t own guns (and guns might be the real reason Dems didn’t try this on the Texas GOP).
But politics is also a game of Monopoly—and the GOP is trying to put a hotel on Boardwalk before the Dems pass Go. With an energized base, a new-found love affair with Wall Street, and Hillary and Obama piling up the kind of money that would make them eligible for a Bush tax-break, the money arrow is clearly pointing a different direction these days. Even if this thing fails by thirty points, it could still be a rare example of economically rational thinking by members of the GOP.