The Fall of Saul Anuzis
Former Michigan GOP leader parrots NPV talking points
Even in states where Democrats control the legislature and governor’s office, National Popular Vote often spends a great deal of money to win one or two Republican supporters. This is smart politics for two reasons. First, it’s hard for anyone to believe that changes to the “rules of the game” are fair if only one team supports them. Many Democrats are wary of the appearance of impropriety if they back NPV without at least a few Republicans signing on as well. Second, for NPV to succeed it must become law in states representing a majority of Electoral College votes (270). Even if it could sail through the states farthest to the political Left, doing so with only support from the far Left will make the effort more likely to hit a brick wall in the more moderate states that it must win to reach 270.
A part of this strategy came to light yesterday when Saul Anuzis, former Michigan Republican Party Chairman, endorsed National Popular Vote on his blog. Anuzis closely parrots NPV’s talking points, but does try to spin the Progressive project as “bipartisan” and good for Republicans.
NPV’s claim of bipartisan support must be getting more difficult to repeat with a straight face. In my own home state of Washington, NPV started out with a few Republican supporters in the legislature. However, by the time it came to final passage, the only thing bipartisan about the bill was opposition to it. No Republican voted for it, several Democrats voted against it. The same thing in the Maine House of Representatives, where the bill was defeated by an overwhelming Left-Right coalition. Again, by the time of the vote, every Republican and nearly half the Democratic Caucus voted against NPV. In Wisconsin, where the bill was introduced this year in both chambers, it started with three Republican cosponsors. Within days of hearing from their constituents (and this writer), all three took their names off the bill and became some of it’s most vocal critics.
Anuzis’s claim that NPV would benefit Republicans is dangerous political discourse. Changing the very structure of our national politics is not something to be done for partisan gain. And even where that might be the motive, it’s not likely to succeed. This change–replacing a geographically balanced, two-tiered system with a majority requirement (of electoral votes), with a direct system based on the raw national total with no majority requirement–would surely come with a barrage of unintended and unanticipated consequences. (Though it’s important to note that we can think about these consequences and attempt to unravel them as best we can, rather than adopting the NPV approach of simply averting our minds from reality.) Of course, odds makers would tell us that one indicator of the likely political effects of NPV is who is putting in the money to support it. In that case, all the money comes from the Left, even as some of it is spent buying off figures on the Right.