David Broder's President of the Swing States of America

by Rob Richie // Published May 9, 2008

David Broder, dean of inside-the-Beltway political pundits, often accurately captures the insiders' conventional wisdom. That's what makes his Washington Post column yesterday so revealing. He casually calls North Carolina and Indiana "throwaway" states unworthy of the attention they received in Democratic primaries on May 6th.

"Throwaway"? Is this American democracy we're talking about?

Sadly, the answer is yes. Broder's appalling observation is based on the cruel reality of today's Electoral College system: a few states matter, and most states are so "unimportant" that they are "throwaways." The people of North Carolina and Indiana -- and indeed most of the nation -- may care about America just as much as the people of Ohio and Iowa, but fundamentally they are irrelevant. They live in the wrong place at the wrong time, and Broder is right that the major nominees will at most make token appearances in those states after securing their party's nomination.

Indeed, following this logic, Broder suggests these states shouldn't even count in primaries. He audaciously suggests that "In a sensible nominating system, these states would never become important battlegrounds. Lots of people complain that Iowa and New Hampshire enjoy disproportionate influence because of their place at the start of the process. But both are closely contested in November -- not throwaways."

For Broder, it's sensible that if a state is irrelevant in November it should be irrelevant in the nomination process. Long live the POTSSOA -- President of the Swing States of America.

Count me out of Broder's vision of elections. Instead, let's:

* Enshrine nomination processes that make all states and territories relevant - you can see a mix of ideas for reform on our site FixThePrimaries.com site, including the American Plan, rotating regional primary, national plan and Ohio Plan

* Have more states join Maryland, Illinois, Hawaii and New Jersey in the National Popular Vote agreement -- one that will go into effect once there are enough participating states to guarantee the White House for the winner of the popular vote in all 50 states.

No vote should be unimportant. No state should be a throwaway.