A flat popular vote for president would make candidates pay attention only to major population centers, where they can get votes most efficiently, and ignore everywhere else. It would also encourage them to campaign only to their base, boosting support and turnout among those who they think are likely to support them, and ignoring other groups. And different weather patterns, traffic, economies, etc. would yield different turnout in different parts of the country for unfair reasons, which would be reflected in the national vote.
We need a districted system. The country is a whole is way too large to be that district.
Our current districted system has two major flaws:
States make bad districts, because most of them are too large. California would be competitive if it were split into a bunch of smaller pieces, since many or most of them could be swing districts. Ditto for New York.
Low population states get extra votes, disproportionate to their population. This is a necessary counterbalance to the fact that some states have many times the population, so the two problems are related.
If we could solve the gerrymandering problem, electing our president by having each congressional district cast one vote would be an ideal system. The main advantage of using states as districts is that they can't be gerrymandered.
Ahah! The last two posts with this list just said "candidates", nothing about challengers. Only recognizing a few of them, I didn't realize they were all challengers. Are you only listing challengers when the incumbent opposes net neutrality, or also pro-neutrality challengers running against a pro-neutrality incumbent?
I'll probably blog about the convention anyway, on Blue Mass Group, where already blog regularly about state politics. As long as you don't mind that I'm working part time for one of the candidates, I'd be happy to blog for MyDD.
His job right now is to listen to the state party leaders - that's the platform he ran on and got elected on. But he still listens to the progressive base more than any past DNC leader since I've been an adult, and he certainly not only listened to us but took positive actions to enhance our power and voice throughout his presidential campaign and the period between then and his starting at the DNC. Among other things, he promoted the blogosphere with his voice and his money, and he founded DFA as a vehicle for the progressive base to become more powerful - something DFA is still doing under his brother's leadership.
I've also met him at a number of events both during his campaign and after, and not only is he always very interested in listening to random people, but you can see later on the effects of it, when things you say to him make it into his speeches or actions. Sure you remember the contrast between his campaign in 2002 and the spring of 2003, and after. The turn he took in late spring and early summer of 2003 was largely from listening to the progressive base, and I really don't remember any other major presidential candidate in decades doing something like that: changing his campaign message and altering the course of his campaign, in response to what he heard from the grassroots.
This is why we need ActBlue in every state! People in the netroots were all excited to contribute to get ActBlue in swing states and red states in the process of converting, but great candidates come everywhere, and sometimes our contest is with entrenched Democrats in blue states. If I weren't on the edge of broke I'd be donating to get ActBlue in Massachusetts (and Connecticut, and California, and Rhode Island, and Maine, ...)
Russ Feingold and Howard Dean share several traits that, in combination, make them similarly amazing:
Bold and forthright, taking stands on important issues without political calculation.
Clear, honest, powerful speakers who can both light up their base and sway the undecided, and build loyalty
Pragmatic coalition-builders who can work with the "other side" on a variety of issued. Dean's coalition with the NRA to preserve land in Vermont; Feingold's bipartisan coalition that almost reformed the Patriot Act, and his alliance with McCain on campaign finance reform; are good examples.
Honest, trustworthy, and credible. People believe what they say because they've always been honest and straight with the public, even when it's uncomfortable.
The insight to know how far is not too far, and the ability to push boundaries. Some politicians play it safe, making little adjustments but not striving for what they could get. Others are radicals, striving all the way, but don't achieve much because they get written off as cranks or fringe. These two have the uncanny ability to pick the sweet spot. They consistently take positions that seem off the edge, but are actually positions that they know can become the new center in the future.
Follow-through. They may take years, but they pursue their goals effectively, and eventually, those positions they took that seemed on the fringe years ago, actually come to pass. Consider how little chance anyone gave the campaign finance reform bill when Feingold started working on it. Or how far-fetched Dean's dream of universal health care in Vermont seemed when he first tried, as Lieutenant Governor. Or Feingold's lone vote against the Patriot Act, and how far we've come - by next year, we could have significant reform. Or Dean's sticking up for civil unions, which at the time were opposed by a majority, but are now solidly supported.
Incidentally, reading your posts about the CT state convention yesterday, one of my first thoughts was: "I bet the Lamont people feel a lot like we (Patrick people) felt here in Massachusetts on caucus day".
We out-organized the established candidate who's "turn" it is to get the nomination, Attorney General Tom Reilly. The last three Democratic nominees for Governor in a row have gone from Middlesex DA to Attorney General to Democratic nominee for Governor (to, unfortunately, losing to the Republican in the general). At the caucuses, we elect delegates to the state convention, where you need 15% to get on the ballot. We were fairly confident we'd elect enough delegates for 15%, but we wanted to try really hard to get a much stronger showing.
At my ward's caucus, I was surprised to see no Tom Reilly people at all. The same was true for the other ward that caucused in the same building. But I didn't realize we weren't a fluke until a couple of hours later, when we were wrapping up and the Deval Patrick coordinator for our ward started calling up the others... it turns out we whomped Reilly 2-to-1 statewide, and Deval Patrick is now the favorite for the convention endorsement (50%+1) this June. A great grassroots victory that established Deval Patrick as a credible candidate.
I like him so much, I talked him into hiring me :)
John Bonifaz founded the National Voting Rights Institute in 1994 and serves as their lead counsel. As part of his work with the NVRI, he led the legal efforts for the Ohio recount after the 2004 election. In 2002, he made a big splash here in Massachusetts when he sued the state for refusing the fund a voter-passed clean elections law, and got a landmark ruling from our Supreme Court saying that the legislature was obligated to fund the law or repeal it.
In 1999, Bonifaz received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (commonly nicknamed the "genius award") for his innovative legal work around campaign finance reform.
And now, he's running for Massachusetts secretary of state. A real voting rights and election reform leader in charge of our elections, imagine that! The keystone of his platform is a Voters' Bill of Rights that begins with "Count Every Vote".
John Bonifaz is also the author of "Warrior King", co-founder of the After Downing Street Coalition, and the guy who sued the Bush administration in federal court in 2003, claiming they had no constitutional authority to invade Iraq without a declaration of war (the court found Bonifaz's arguments compelling but unfortunately decided to punt).
It's tempting for you to look at the similarities, but I don't see these two situations as similar at all. Just to name a couple of key differences...
You're talking about a race for an open seat that at the time was held by the other party. We're talking about an 18 year incumbent in a solidly Democratic state. When you have two new candidates running for an open seat, everything is wide open. When you have an entrenched incumbent whose general election prospect is 100% safe and an almost unknown challenger takes 1/3 of the vote at his party convention, that's a body blow. If you want to think of a good parallel, think of DeLay "winning" his primary in TX-22 last month - and in that case, they did have a credible general election challenge to worry about.
Colorado has been a Republican dominated state for a long time, and Democrats were just coming into ascendancy. CT is a Democratic state. I've organized in very blue states and swing states and red states over the past few years, and there's a striking difference in the relationship between the party and the new grassroots. I don't think you appreciate quite the level of entrenched party insiderness we get in blue state Democratic parties that are used to holding most of the mayorships and state legislative seats and US Senate and House seats and don't feel like they need new blood, or don't know how to go about it. They've got solid stable relationships with their old-school power base and it's very difficult to challenge them.