Flip the script, or Let’s commit (legit) voter fraud.
Us Democrats and progressives are a generally optimistic bunch. We drink the Kool-Aid of America. We down it like a frat pledge doing a keg stand. And we believe that every day is a new opportunity to make a more perfect union. That’s why when we wake up and see this, we tend to get a little giddy. And it gets even better. And better still. But as much as I love me some Nate Silver sabermetrics, we all know that polls don’t tell the full story. They’re a snapshot in time, a page in a Russian novel. When the shit hits the fan on E-Day, it’s the votes that count.
So how do we as decent, democracy-loving, demographic crunching political junkies make sure that we don’t have a collective Groundhog Day moment when Steve Kornacki starts drawing things on the big board on November 3rd? I have an idea, and it’s as American as apple pie. But first, let me take you down memory lane, painful as the journey may be…
Everyone knows the 2016 election nightmare tale by now. I don’t need to repeat it. And I definitely don’t need to share a link to an insightful breakdown by some neo-liberal pundit. Suffice it to say that turnout was the name of the game. A frothy base of racists, rogues, and Republicans rose up to take America back from Obama and the Clinton Machine, and we were left crying into our Corn Flakes the next morning because we were dumb enough to believe that a used car salesman could never be elected President of the United States. (Except that it had happened before, with equally disastrous results.)
But let’s not forget the most important lesson of 2016: The Electoral College continues to be the single most destructive force in the American Republic — other than Mitch McConnell. It’s the only logical conclusion one could possibly draw after watching an infinitely more qualified and experienced candidate win by nearly 3 million votes nationwide, yet somehow not be the President.
The bad news is nothing’s changed in the race to 270. The Electoral College is here to stay until we pass a Constitutional Amendment or a certain number of states pledge their EC delegates to the winner of the National Popular Vote. (And like good Democrats, we’re drinking this new flavor of Kool-Aid like it’s a limited edition, as if it had any chance of coming to fruition.) The even worser news is that our national nightmare could repeat itself all over again, and leave us in a cold sweat on the morning of November 4th, staring down the barrel of the end of the Republic as we know it. (Anyone have a life-size Ruth Bader Ginsburg android lying around?)
So what’s my big idea? Well, in tribute to the historic candidacy of Andrew Yang, it’s all about math…
As has been repeated ad nauseum, in November 2016, Clinton lost three states — Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — by a combined 77,774 votes. Those three states cost Clinton 46 electoral votes, and the presidency. Clinton lost another three big states — Arizona, Florida, and North Carolina — by a combined 377,460 votes. Those three defeats meant an additional 55 electoral votes went the other way.
So, to recap, if Democrats had managed to motivate another 80,000 voters across three states to show up and vote for Clinton, we wouldn’t know who Brett fucking Kavanaugh is (although Christine Blasey Ford would). If we’d turned out an additional 456,000 folks across six states, James Carville would be in the middle of writing his third book on the Clinton landslide.
Meanwhile, in the same election, across the traditional Democratic strongholds of California, New York, and Illinois, Clinton took home nearly 7 million more votes than the Republican candidate, including a 4.2M margin in the nation’s most populous state.
In addition to population, California is also 3rd in the nation in housing prices, at least according to Zillow — particularly in Democrat-heavy regions like the Bay Area. New York is no slouch at 10th on the list, and Illinois 31st. Meanwhile, Wisconsin checks in at 33rd, Pennsylvania 35th, and Michigan 39th. Getting the picture?
Where I’m based in Santa Clara County, voters recently passed a $900M bond to build affordable housing for our most vulnerable residents. California officials are allocating billions of dollars to the cause, and supermajorities of the populace support the effort. There are also hundreds of thousands of young Democrats and progressives struggling to make ends meet in the Golden State. Many of them fall into the “missing middle” — earning too much to qualify for housing subsidies and not enough to afford market rates.
If California voters are willing to commit billions of dollars to house their unhoused neighbors, it stands to reason that we could start a political action committee that raises enough funds to literally move 80,000 Democrats from California to Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in time to vote for Joe Biden in the November 2020 election.
Of course, these intrepid electoral vagabonds would need more than typical supporter housing to survive. We’d get you jobs as campaign organizers for the DNC and other grassroots groups, multiplying your impact on Democratic turnout in your chosen states. We’d offer networking opportunities with public, private, and nonprofit partners to help you continue your careers in their chosen fields.
Heck, depending on your work situation during the shelter in place, you may not need to quit your day job — as long as your boss doesn’t mind you Zooming in to staff meetings from another time zone. And you’d be at least a couple hours ahead of us, so you could sleep in every day!
Of course, we’d give you subsidies for rent, food, and basic needs until you get on your feet. And after the election, we’d help you transition back to California or carve a new future in a new place.
“Isn’t that kinda like voter fraud?” you ask. No, this is kinda like voter fraud.
What I’m talking about is gaming a system that’s already rigged against this country’s progressive majority. It’s perfectly legal, perfectly voluntary, and perfectly crazy. We’ll never get anywhere in the Great American Experiment by playing it safe. We only need to look out our windows right now to understand this.
Worried about timing? That’s where the good news comes in. Michigan and Wisconsin both offer same-day voter registration, meaning you can register to vote right up to Election Day. In Pennsylvania, there’s a 15-day deadline. In Michigan and Pennsylvania, you still need 30 days of residency before the election to qualify, but in Wisconsin, it’s only 10. And as an added benefit, the PAC would support our ex-pat Dems by lining up all the residency documentation you need to register and cast your ballots.
Still not buying it? Well, alternatively, we could leave this up to the experts who handed the 2016 election to a human toupee. But nobody wants that, and even the most optimistic Democrat looking through rose colored glasses should be wise enough to know that things aren’t always what they seem — and polls often lie. We need to do something to shake up the system and drive the change we want to see.
And if you like this idea, I’ve got a Senate strategy to sell you.