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Let the people rule



Let the people rule

Hurricanes like Katrina don't come every year, but they come often enough that potential victims are wise to plan for them. Electoral disasters like the 2000 presidential election don't happen every four years, either, but they've occurred with sufficient frequency to show that defensive measures are needed. Prudent citizens are preparing.

The Arkansas House of Representatives has approved and sent to the Senate a bill (HB 1339) to help assure that the American people are permitted to elect their president — all of the people, not just a handful of party regulars. A majority of the House believes that the world's oldest democracy should choose its leaders democratically, a proposition hard to argue with.

Hard for us, we should say, hard for most people, but not for the agitated elitists who resent the common man's having a say in the running of his country. The same sort who were against votes for blacks and women and young people, who believed that U.S. senators should be chosen by politicians rather than taxpayers, now oppose the National Popular Vote Bill.

If approved by a sufficient number of state legislatures, the bill would ensure that the presidential candidate who receives the most votes becomes president. In 2000, more Americans voted for Al Gore than voted for George W. Bush, but the quaint mechanics of the Electoral College gave Bush the presidency. You know the rest.

Throughout American history, some have wanted the states superior to the people. The country's bloodiest war was fought over this point, and the champions of people's rights won, though the states' righters still feign ignorance, if they don't already possess it. The head of the national Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh, has ordered Republican legislators to resist the popular vote legislation. So we see Rep. Dan Greenberg of Little Rock taking one for the team, arguing in essence that to be pro-American is to be anti-Arkansan, the sort of embarrassing argument that Orval Faubus used to make. Rep. Davy Carter of Cabot shared with the House that his grandfather-in-law (Limbaugh?) sometimes knows what's best, and grandpapa opposes the Popular Vote Bill.

Although Rep. Mike Burris of Malvern, a non-Republican, thoughtfully explained what the legislation was really about — “one person, one vote” — the opposition remained determinedly unenlightened. After the bill passed, the Republican state chairman declared it “inconceivable” that a New Yorker's vote should count as much as an Arkansan's. He seemed nostalgic for the poll tax.

HB 1339 is now before the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee. Supporters should make sure the senators hear opinions other than Limbaugh's.


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