The Party of John Calhoun

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In Virginia, the legislature is moving to apportion its electoral votes by congressional district, instead of by direct popular vote:

Sen. Charles W. "Bill" Carrico, R-Grayson, said the change is necessary because Virginia's populous, urbanized areas such as the Washington, D.C., suburbs and Hampton Roads can outvote rural regions such as his, rendering their will irrelevant. 

 Last fall, President Barack Obama carried Virginia for the second election in a row, making him the first Democrat since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win Virginia in back-to-back presidential elections. 

For his victories, he received all 13 of the state's electoral votes. Under Carrico's revision, Obama would have received only four Virginia electoral votes last year while Republican Mitt Romney would have received nine. Romney carried conservative rural areas while Obama dominated Virginia's cities and fast-growing suburbs.
One reason the rural areas were "outvoted" is because there were fewer votes in rural areas, and more in urban ones. If the GOP can't convince enough people to win, it will rig the rules so that certain people matter less than others.

Jamelle Bouie calls this exactly what it is:
In addition to disenfranchising voters in dense areas, this would end the principle of "one person, one vote." If Ohio operated under this scheme, for example, Obama would have received just 22 percent of the electoral votes, despite winning 52 percent of the popular vote in the state...

It's also worth noting, again, that this constitutes a massive disenfranchisement of African American and other nonwhite voters, who tend to cluster near urban areas. When you couple this with the move on Monday to redraw the state's electoral maps -- eliminating one state senate district and packing black voters into another, diluting their strength -- it's as if Virginia Republicans are responding to Obama's repeat victory in the state by building an electoral facsimile of Jim Crow.

I'd like to double down on that point. Efforts to disenfranchise black people, have always been most successful when they worked indirectly. After the initial post-war Black Codes were repealed, white supremacists turned to less obvious modes of discrimination -- poll taxes, grandfather clauses, and literacy tests. 

These were cloaked under a colorblind argument -- "We don't discriminate against black people, we discriminate against people who can't read the Constitution." By "read the Constitution," they meant "recite the Bill of Rights by heart." And they'd ask you to do this after reducing your school funding to a pittance. I say this to point that this is not a "new" racism. This is how it scheme went before the civil-rights movement, and this is how the scheme works today. 

To see the only other major political party in the country effectively giving up on convincing voters, and instead embarking on a strategy of disenfranchisement is bad sign for American democracy. There is nothing gleeful in this.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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