Winner Take All

The Tribune had a piece today by Steven Hill of the New America Foundation. (I could not locate it online.)

His premise is that the legislative spending excess we encounter regardless of what party is in power is a systemic problem, not based on Democratic or GOP control of the purse springs. He points out that the lack of a viable "third party watchdog at the federal level" allows our two parties the political cover to spend, and spend, and spend. He also contends that the "winner-take-all" nature of our congressional districts contributes to the problem.

He suggests that an at-large election system would work to prevent elections, and therefore spending, from being so "geographically-based." I guess I don't understand this point. It seems to me that the elimination of districts will simply dilute the votes of those in rural areas in favor of those in urban areas.

If there are 500,000 people in a hypothetical state's one large city, and 500,000 people spread throughout a state's rural areas, wouldn't the candidate with a proclivity towards spending simply promise a new bridge, or civic center, or whatever, to the city in an effort to get those votes? And wouldn't this candidate focus on the city as a way to get more bang for his or her buck in campaigning? And if this were true, wouldn't elections still be geographically-based?

I don't know. I am not saying Hill is wrong, and it is certainly interesting. I just don't know that his proposal is the panacea it is represented to be.

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