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United States Politics

The US Redrawn As 50 Equally Populated States 642

First time accepted submitter Daniel_Stuckey writes "Bam! For anyone that's paid a speck of attention to the tedium of political redistricting, which happens while a state grows unevenly, (and must dynamically respond to density, electorate disparity, natural resources and ridgelines, etc.), this is straight out of some psychedelic dream. For Democrats, it could be straight out of a nightmare. That's because Freeman's map necessitates 50 equally populous United States. His methods for creating the map are explained thusly: 'The algorithm was seeded with the fifty largest cities. After that, manual changes took into account compact shapes, equal populations, metro areas divided by state lines, and drainage basins. In certain areas, divisions are based on census tract lines... The suggested names of the new states are taken mainly from geographical features.'"
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The US Redrawn As 50 Equally Populated States

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  • Place names (Score:4, Informative)

    by hoboroadie ( 1726896 ) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:50AM (#42928105)

    Geography is beautiful. I made this my wallpaper yesterday.

  • Re:What?! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2013 @12:33PM (#42928423)

    Then why is the USA the only country using indirect elections? Every other modern country that used it at some point has switched to direct elections.

    Then why is it that you can't even do a basic wikipedia search for indirect elections to realize that you don't know what you're talking about?

    Germany, Italy, Estonia, Latvia and Hungary all use indirect elections...

    There are currently 33 countries, including the UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland and India that all use the Westminster system, which is considered to be an indirect election because you vote for a party and if it's that party gets the majority, or the leader of one party has the support of more than 51% of the Members of Parliament (MPs), that leader becomes the head of government.

    You don't vote directly for the head of government in those systems and, unless you're lucky, you generally have to vote for an MP that you would rather not vote for to see your party have the majority. Sometimes, it's the opposite and you have to vote for a party you don't want to see the leader as head of government just so you can have the local MP you want to see in parliament elected.

    So, which modern countries were you talking about that have all switched to direct elections at some point for their head of government?

    (Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indirect_election / http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_election / http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westminster_system)

  • Re:What?! (Score:4, Informative)

    by canavan ( 14778 ) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @12:36PM (#42928435)
    That's incorrect. The president of Germany [wikipedia.org] is elected by the Federal Convention, which is made up of all members of the German Federal Diet (Deutscher Bundestag, elected by proportional representation every four years) plus the same number of representatives elected by the states' parliaments. Therefore, half of the result is determined by indirect vote, and the other half by double indirect votes (populace votes for representatives in the state parliament, those vote for representatives in the Federal Convention, and that in turn votes for the president). There is however, no popular vote at all for the president, the elections for the president don't coincide with any federal or state elections. Few people really care, because the president usually has a much lower profile than the chancellor..
  • Re:What?! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dragonslicer ( 991472 ) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @12:38PM (#42928457)

    Rural areas don't have undue weight - how many rural states does it take to equal one OH, NY, FL, TX or CA? Electorally those states are monsters that decide who will be President - the rural areas do not have undue weight.

    Those states have far more electoral votes because they have far higher populations. Votes in less-populated states have slightly greater weight than votes in states with higher populations. A state with a population of two million that has two representatives (numbers rounded to make the math easier) gets four electoral votes, or one per 500,000 people. A state with a population of 20 million and 20 representatives gets 22 electoral votes, or one per 900,000 people.

  • by ElectricTurtle ( 1171201 ) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @12:41PM (#42928489)
    Have you any idea how many US cities and counties, let alone states, have Native American names already? Alaska (through Russian), Arizona (through Spanish), Hawaii, Idaho (disputed), Illinois (through French), Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan (through French), Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming are all derived from Native American words in some form or another. That's almost 40% of the states.
  • Re:What?! (Score:5, Informative)

    by JDG1980 ( 2438906 ) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @01:08PM (#42928695)

    To the founders, the "Senate problem" was a solution, not a problem. Proportional representation was not the ultimate goal; it was a goal that needed to be tempered. The Senate does that.

    "The Founders" weren't one unified body. The bicameral system was a compromise [wikipedia.org] between large-state representatives who wanted proportional representation by population, and small-state representatives who wanted all states to have an equal vote.

    The people we usually think of as "Founding Fathers" – most notably James Madison and Alexander Hamilton – wanted proportional representation and weren't too thrilled about the Senate, though they were willing to accept it to avoid scuttling the whole enterprise. According to Wikipedia, "Madison argued that a conspiracy of large states against the small states was unrealistic as the large states were so different from each other. Hamilton argued that the states were artificial entities made up of individuals, and accused small state representatives of wanting power, not liberty." The people who were gung-ho for an equal representation Senate were much more marginal figures, such as Gunning Bedford, Jr. [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:Place names (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2013 @01:26PM (#42928879)

    beg the question

    No, it raises the question. Begging the question is a logical fallacy that doesn't mean anything like what it sounds.

  • Re:What?! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 ) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @01:29PM (#42928901) Journal

    Wyoming has a population of 576 thousand. California has a population of 38 million.

    It should take 65 wyomings to out vote one California. Instead, it takes nineteen.

  • Re:Place names (Score:5, Informative)

    by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @01:53PM (#42929103)
    I don't know if that's quite true. I live in a small state and there's very little campaigning ever done here. Why? Same reason that there's not a lot of campaigning done in other states: it's pretty much a given that no matter who runs under the Republican ticket, they'll get the most votes here. Kind of like how it really doesn't matter in California and New York, because they're going to go to the Democrats. Why bother campaigning beyond a token appearance when everyone already knows that baring any major scandals, the results are practically a given. So really, it's just the states that have early primaries or the swing states that get the most attention.

    Also the system was originally designed in such a way so that the larger, more populous states wouldn't have too strong of an influence over the federal government.
  • Re:Place names (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jhon ( 241832 ) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @02:43PM (#42929525) Homepage Journal

    "It is pretty neat, but it still reflects 18th century thinking"

    Spoken like someone who doesn't understand the constitution.

    We do not have a single election for president. We have 50 SEPARATE elections for president. Each state decides who best represents it's population and all electors (with few exepctions) go to that cadidate and the number of electors is based on population.

    We need to remember we do not have a "democracy" by design. It's a consitutional republic based on federalism. And if you want to understand the reasons for that feel free to read the federalist papers (particularly Federalist 10).

    "Congresspeople shouldn't represent geographical regions, but specific groups of people, where ever they are"

    Um -- they don't represent regions. The do represent "specific groups of people". They are called their "electorate". I'm sorry, but my representative wasn't selected by the San Gabrial mountains, but by the majority of the people in his disctrict. Those very specific groupe of people.

  • Re:Place names (Score:5, Informative)

    by demonlapin ( 527802 ) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @03:07PM (#42929731) Homepage Journal
    Please explain how you can interpret this [270towin.com] as indicating "a couple percentage points" difference. For the lazy:
    • 2012: D+16
    • 2008:D+17
    • 2004:D+8
    • 2000:D+5
    • 1996:D+13

    Hell, let's compare it to Mississippi (same website), which I think we can all agree is a quintessential red state.

    • 2012:R+11
    • 2008:R+13
    • 2004:R+20
    • 2000:R+17
    • 1996:R+5

    In short, WA is ignored because there is essentially zero chance it will go R in a national election (regardless of its Congressional delegation's composition). Are you being deliberately obtuse?

  • Re:Place names (Score:5, Informative)

    by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Sunday February 17, 2013 @04:33PM (#42930295) Homepage Journal

    The problem is the small state bonus.

    The small state bonus doesn't exist. Part of the Electoral College design was intended to give small states a boost, so they're not completely dominated by their larger brethren, but the founders didn't have the mathematics necessary to really understand the effect of their design. We do now, and the conclusion you reach by evaluating the situation according to the various vote power measures is that in fact the reverse is true. The power of bloc voting means that power disproportionately accrues to large blocs, which means large states in this context.

    If all states were to allocate their electoral votes proportionally, then small states really would get a boost. As it is, they're actually disadvantaged by the system. Not as disadvantaged as they'd be without their extra vote or two, but still disadvantaged.

    Candidates for President rarely if ever campaign in larger states because we have less pull than the smaller states do.

    Nonsense. They focus their campaigning on the states whose vote isn't a foregone conclusion. Obama didn't need to campaign in California or New York, and there was no point in him campaigning in Texas. Both Obama and Romney spent lots of time in Florida, however; a swing state with 25 electoral votes is important to them.

  • Re:What?! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @10:51PM (#42932197) Homepage

    In the US, tt's completely fair and working as designed.

    Jefferson and Madison and a few of the others were smart men with uncommonly noble intentions, however it is naive to forget that they were dealing with the reality of politics of their day, and that the politics they had to deal with were often as bad or worse than the politics we have to deal with today.

    Might I remind you that the Three-Fifths Compromise was also part of the "completely fair and working as designed" system put in place in the Constitution. Slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person when counting up population for the House of Representatives. It was working as designed, right up until two-percent of the entire US population had to be killed in the Civil War to get it repealed.

    Both the Three-Fifths Compromise and the Electoral College are the result of SLAVERY-POLITICS. They were not some noble and perfect system for better government, they were designed and selected for the purpose of balancing the political power of Slave-States vs Free-States.

    The Constitution had to be ratified by the petty politicians of the various states, politicians who first and foremost were concerned with their own political power and their own political agendas. The Three-Fifths Compromise and the Electoral College are nothing more than arbitrary bullshit political compromises catering to Slave-politics, designed to give pro-slavery and anti-slavery political forces equal political power, so that neither side would reject and kill off the Constitution.

    As for Federalist 10, it has no relevance to the existing Electoral College. Federalist 10 would only be relevant if you were to propose electing unpledged electors. (The positive or negative value of electing unpledged electors to the Electoral College may be an interesting theoretical exorcise, however I'm sure you'll agree that modern Elector-elections would immediately devolve into partisan politics.)

    However that still fails to address the central criticism being leveled at the existing Electoral College. There is absolutely nothing in Federalist 10 to justify wildly disproportionate representation of voters. A Wyoming voter gets more than four times the representation as a California voter, and a Vermont voter gets more than three times the representation as a Texas voter. That does nothing to combat factors or any "tyranny of the majority". That merely gives arbitrary factions disproportionate power and replaces any possible "tyranny of the majority" with a "tyranny of an arbitrarily overrepresented minority".

    It's to prevent one group of "interests" or "factions" as Madison put it, from squashing the liberties of others.

    With pledged Electors, the Electoral College has zero connection to Federalist 10 and does exactly zero to counter "interests" or "factions" from squashing the liberties of others. And with the grossly disproportionate representation in the Electoral College it greatly magnifies that problem. Our Electoral College now empowers arbitrary minority "interests" or "factions" to squash the liberties of the majority. Our Electoral College completely subverts the point of Federalist 10.


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