Ham & eggs
There's that old tale about the pig and the chicken trying to decide what to have for breakfast. When the chicken suggests ham and eggs, the pig quickly rebuts, “You're not giving up much but for me it's a total sacrifice.”
That could just as well be a conversation between the national Republican Party and a few of Pennsylvania's Republican leaders. The proposal to change the manner in which Electoral College votes are apportioned here would likely please the party's national bigwigs but at great risk to the locals.
In Pennsylvania, the tried and true winner-take-all Electoral College system would be replaced by the assignment of delegates on a proportional basis. This would split the votes and would have given some delegates to Mitt Romney in the last election, even though he lost the state.
National Republican Chairman Reince Priebus has said of some states that President Obama won, like Pennsylvania, “I think it's something that a lot of states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red ought to be looking at.” But that's easy for him to say.
There are more than 1 million more Democrats than Republicans in Pennsylvania. With that registration edge, no Republican can get elected statewide without considerable support from Democrats. And Pennsylvania Republicans would bear the brunt of the likely backlash from changing the rules to gain an edge for some imaginary presidential candidate.
The lessons are fresh. Manipulating polling places and times in Florida and Ohio frustrated some voters in November. But it only hardened the resolve of many who showed up and waited, even some who had not planned to vote, just to prove that they could not be denied. They were mostly Democrats.
Voter ID laws, like the Pennsylvania version that is still being challenged in court, transparently required hoop-jumping by elderly and poor voters who would have been rebuffed at the polls without the “proper” ID. In Pennsylvania, a court order sidetracked the law so as not to affect the last presidential race, blunting its intent. Those who were allowed to vote as they always had in the past were mostly Democrats.
Changing the rules to win — in Monopoly or football or politics — rubs most Americans the wrong way. It is the opposite of winning fair and square, of fighting the good fight. And those who try it are usually held accountable by a fair-minded electorate, without regard to party or politics.
If you are a Republican with statewide ambitions, or if you represent a swing district now, and you get a say in this proposed rule change, you have a choice. You can listen to the chicken, knowing that it stands to lose only an egg, and contribute your whole ham to the national agenda, making the ultimate sacrifice.
Or you can play by the rules. Run on your record. Win or lose.
Joseph Sabino Mistick, a lawyer, law professor and political analyst, lives in Squirrel Hill (SabinoMistick@aol.com).
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers sign former star LB Harrison; Tomlin talks ‘different climate’
- Port Authority: Drivers ‘reckless’ before buses bumped, wrecking 1
- State Sen. Jim Ferlo: ‘I’m gay. Get over it. I love it’
- Steelers’ Taylor recovering from forearm surgery
- Baldwin-Whitehall substitute teacher charged in child porn case
- Coder resigns as football coach at Canon-McMillan
- Steelers defense must replace 3 injured starters after victory
- Missing boy from Wilkinsburg found in N.C.
- Fox Chapel teen wins $25K scholarship in Google Science Fair
- Sears leaving Century III after 3 decades in West Mifflin
- Pirates notebook: Volquez open to re-signing with team