If you can’t win elections, rig them

Updated
 

Rachel and MaddowBlog reported this week on the Republican State Leadership Committee and its Redistricting Majority Project, or REDMAP. To briefly recap, the Republican group freely admits – boasts, even – that if American voters had their way, there would be a Democratic majority in the U.S. House, but thanks to Republican gerrymandering, the party has successfully rigged the game.

The next step for the party is identifying key states – including Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio – and changing the way they allocate electoral votes. In effect, after having “fixed” congressional district lines to guarantee success regardless of popular will, Republicans also intend to rig presidential elections, starting in 2016.

It’s reassuring to see other major media outlets pick up on the significance of the story.

After back-to-back presidential losses, Republicans in key states want to change the rules to make it easier for them to win.

From Wisconsin to Pennsylvania, GOP officials who control legislatures in states that supported President Barack Obama are considering changing state laws that give the winner of a state’s popular vote all of its Electoral College votes, too. Instead, these officials want Electoral College votes to be divided proportionally, a move that could transform the way the country elects its president.

In this case, “transform” is a polite euphemism for “stack the deck in Republicans’ favor.”

As Rachel noted on the show last night, state legislation has already been introduced in Pennsylvania, and the Associated Press reports that GOP lawmakers in other states, including Michigan and Wisconsin, are poised to unveil their bills soon.

As a policy matter, this is so outrageous, it’s almost hard to believe. “It is difficult to find the words to describe just how evil this plan is,” Pennsylvania Democratic state Sen. Daylin Leach told the AP. “It is an obscene scheme to cheat by rigging the elections.”

We’ve come to expect a certain degree of audacity from the radicalized Republican Party, but even for today’s GOP, this offends basic norms of decency. I expect them to go far; I don’t expect them to go this far.

As Rachel explained on the show last month, Republicans “are talking about crossing a Rubicon that has never been crossed before.” GOP officials, with the national party’s blessing, are looking for ways to rig presidential elections in Republicans’ favor, and have settled on this scheme as a possible solution to the problem of American voters preferring Democratic candidates.

It occurs to me that might finally be the kind of issue that gets Democratic voters engaged in a midterm cycle. My friend Tom Schaller recently reported on the dramatic dropoff in Democratic turnout between presidential elections. Telling rank-and-file Dems that if they don’t vote in 2014, Republicans will rig the presidential election in 2016 may get some folks off the couch.

Also, just as an aside, I’d like to think the Republican State Leadership Committee’s rhetoric on REDMAP should resolve a lingering question from the 2012 elections. Remember, since early November, the Republican line has been, “We have a mandate. We won a House majority because people love us.”

Behind the scenes, however, there’s a very different Republican line: “Look how we rigged the game so that we win even when we lose.”

Looking ahead, Vanessa Silverton-Peel posted an “Election process toolkit” to MaddowBlog last night, and we plan to keep a close eye on this story going forward.

Gerrymandering, Redistricting and Electoral College

If you can't win elections, rig them

Updated