Wealthy right-wingers from out of state are flooding California with cash to try to change the way the state's electoral votes are allocated. In time for the 2008 election (and thereafter) the Republicans want to snatch up at least 20 of California's 55 electoral votes in a new system that would replace the traditional winner-take-all method. As with past Republican shenanigans they intend to accomplish this feat by tricking the voters with a well financed, deceptively-worded ballot initiative.
"Take Initiative America -- California" is a corporation set up in Missouri that is charged with funneling hefty amounts of cash into the coffers of a group calling itself "Californians for Equal Representation." We'll be hearing a lot from "Californians for Equal Representation" on our radios and TVs as the group uses the latest techniques in post-Swift Boat propaganda to convince enough Californians that they should vote in favor of diminishing their state's relevance in national elections.
If successful, the Republican initiative will have the effect of diluting the impact of the state of California on the Electoral College.
This effort flies in the face of the recent "bi-partisan" decision to change the date of the California primary to increase the state's influence in national politics. California Republicans, including the governor, who voted to change the primary schedule should answer the simple question: Why vote to move the primary election up to February 5th in an effort to give the state greater influence in choosing a president while plotting to strip away electoral votes that will weaken the state's influence in presidential elections?
So Republicans can win! That's why!
Making matters worse is the fact that the billionaire vulture capitalist Paul E. Singer, who makes a living extorting money from hard-pressed peasants and workers in Latin America through buying out debt, and who finances every right-wing entity from Commentary magazine to "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth," has dumped at least $175,000 into the effort to strip California of 40 percent of its electoral votes. Singer aims to fork over these California electoral votes to his good friend Rudolph Giuliani.
Getting this initiative on the ballot in California is the Republicans' latest trick designed to change the rules of the game in their favor because they can't win otherwise. This "reform" would give Rudy Giuliani or any other person the Republicans nominate a lock on 20 electoral votes from California, which is roughly equal to the total number of electoral votes from Ohio.
If the Republicans succeed it would bifurcate California, divide and conquer it, and reduce its significance in national elections in perpetuity.
Sweet for the Republicans! Terrible for the nation.
It would mean that all of the leadership and innovation that California has provided for the nation in the fields of environmental regulation, family leave and health care legislation, high tech industry, and so on would be blunted and thrown into the maw of national politics along side states like Alabama and Mississippi.
Let's take a moment and review the Republican record of electoral fraud and chicanery in recent years:
In 2000, the Republican National Committee, the George W. Bush campaign, Florida's Governor Jeb Bush and its Secretary of State Katherine Harris, along with their right-wing friends on the Supreme Court, nullified the popular election of a Democratic president.
In 2002, all of Georgia's voters used Diebold touch screen voting machines and both the incumbent Democratic Governor and the incumbent Democratic Senator, who had been well ahead in the polls just before the election, lost in amazing double-digit voting shifts.
In 2003, California Republicans successfully forced a recall election that nullified the reelection of an incumbent Democratic governor. They did so through chicanery and running as their candidate an international mega-movie star whose name everyone on the planet knew. (A regular Republican politician could have never unseated the Democratic incumbent).
In 2004, the Republican Secretary of State of Ohio Kenneth Blackwell made sure that voters in heavily Democratic districts waited in long lines to vote, (in some cases voters waited for ten hours), and touch screen voting machines produced "glitches" that always favored Bush. There is overwhelming evidence that Republican trickery in Ohio nullified the election of a Democratic president. (See Mark Crispin Miller's book, Fooled Again).
In 2005, California's Republican governor ordered a "special election." He claimed the Golden State was in a state of "emergency," (sort of like those Enron-inspired rolling black outs), and six Republican ballot initiatives were so crucial they could not wait until the election of 2006. The Republicans spent heavily to place on the ballot a series of deceptively worded propositions that were an assault on California's working middle class. These propositions, if passed, would have forced labor union membership to plummet, privatized the public pension system CalPIRS, forced teens to notify parents about their reproductive choices, and other regressive measures.
At that the time, the Republicans were riding high. Bush had new "political capital" from the 2004 election and he was trying to privatize Social Security. The Republicans still controlled both houses of Congress. Luckily, California voters did not fall for the Republican trick in 2005 and soundly rejected all of the party's phony initiatives. (The governor then backed off and started to talk like a Democrat in preparation for his reelection bid. He discovered something called "post-partisanship" only after he failed to vanquish the Democrats' labor union base as a force in state politics.)
In 2006, the Democrats miraculously squeaked by in the mid-term elections despite Republican voter suppression tactics in Virginia, Ohio, and elsewhere, and gerrymandering in Texas. The Democrats' margin of victory was abnormally low given the pre-election polls, and if it were not for Tom DeLay's conspiracy with Texas Republicans to illegally gerrymander districts in that state the Democrats could have picked up five more House seats.
Now, in 2008, the Republicans are looking to shove one of their own into the White House by rigging the Electoral College in California in their favor because they cannot run on the merits of their horrific record.
In recent years Republicans have subverted our own elections through fraud, Swift Boat attacks, spurious federal prosecutions, voter suppression, illegal campaign donations, bizarre Supreme Court rulings, rigged voting machines, and gerrymandering. But that doesn't stop these hypocrites from claiming that their love of "democracy" runs so deep that we must send Americans to die and be maimed and bankrupt the nation in the name of spreading "democracy" in Iraq, Afghanistan, and throughout the world.
The corporate media have gone to great lengths to try to make voters forget that from January 2003 to January 2007 the Republican Party controlled the Presidency, the House of Representatives, and the Senate. We had a one-party state under Republican power and the nation suffered terribly as a result. We went from peace and prosperity to war and insolvency.
Today, pundits and commentators from Lou Dobbs to Jim Lehrer, from CNN's Cafferty to the highly educated guests on the Charlie Rose show, all talk about the mess in Washington and the partisanship as if the Democrats are equally to blame as the Republicans.
Ask yourself this question: What would be the media's response if the Democrats in the Senate when they were in the minority abused the filibuster in the same exact way the Republicans are currently abusing it? Would pundits and commentators blithely conclude as Carl Hulse and others do today regarding the Republicans, that under Bill Frist the majority simply could not meet the "60-vote threshold" in the Senate to overrule the Democratic minority? As Glenn Greenwald and others have pointed out the media have been covering the Senate as if the onus is on Harry Reid to secure 60 votes to send bills to the president.
They should be calling it what it is: Republican obstructionism.