[Note: This item comes from friend Jock Gill. DLH]
Why Blue States Are the Real ‘Tea Party’
By STEVEN JOHNSON
Dec 3 2016
When the modern Tea Party movement coalesced in the early days of the Obama presidency, its allusion to the political grievances of the protesters in Boston Harbor a couple of hundred years earlier seemed plausible enough: Its members felt that their taxes were too high and their interests not adequately represented by the remote authorities in Washington.
But the election of 2016 presents a challenge to that historical lineage. The home states to the Tea Party are actually doing great on the taxation and representation front. It’s the progressive blue states that should be protesting.
Start with the Electoral College. It has always deviated from the one-person-one-vote system that most Americans imagine they live in, but demographic shifts in recent years have made its prejudices more conspicuous, culminating in the striking gap between Hillary Clinton’s decisive popular vote victory and her Electoral College loss. Thanks to the two extra votes delivered to each state for its two senators, the Electoral College gives less populated states a higher weight, per capita, than it gives more populated states in the decision of who should be the next president.
This was always a betrayal of one-person-one-vote equality, in that a voter in rural Wyoming has more than three times the power of a voter in New Jersey, the country’s most densely populated state. But those imbalances have become far more glaring, thanks to a filter bubble more pronounced than anything on Facebook: the “big sort” that has concentrated Democrats in cities and inner-ring suburbs, and Republicans in exurbs and rural counties.
The right way to think about the political conflict in this country is not red state versus blue state, but red country versus blue city. And yet we are voting in a system explicitly designed to tip the scales toward the countryside.
But that’s only part of the imbalance. When the founders were plotting the Electoral College, more urban states to the north had significant debt, while the rural Southern states were in better financial shape, thanks in part to the free labor of slavery. Recall the line from “Cabinet Battle #1” from the musical “Hamilton”: