Thursday, March 9, 2006
As you may have heard, South Dakota has just passed a law outlawing all abortions except when the life of the mother is at stake. A woman's right to choose has been restricted to sofa cushions and strollers. Many people have suggested that those who oppose the South Dakota law boycott South Dakota, but how would you go about that? Not buy products made in South Dakota? It's awful hard to tell where your grain comes from. Not visit South Dakota? You weren't planning to anyway, right? So: pretty pointless.
Another way to get the job done would be to move to South Dakota. Cultural ornament Jack Mingo (who was helped in his scheming by Erin Barrett) describes the situation: "Fewer than 400,000 people (in South Dakota) voted in 2004. We can assume that not all of them are boneheads. After all, only about 60 percent -- 232,545 -- voted for GWB. 149,225 voted for Kerry. A recent senatorial race was lost by the Democrats by only about 500 votes. If we could convince a mere 90,000 of the Californians, New Yorkers and other Blue Staters who have long been grousing about overcrowding and high living costs to move there, we could make a huge impact on national politics."
Well, yes it would. On the other hand: It's South Dakota. It's very quiet, and there are some cool caves in the Black Hills and several monuments to Lewis and Clark and many forward-thinking people -- it's the state that elected Tom Daschle, after all. But it gets mighty darn cold in the winter, fusion cuisine has not really caught on there yet, and you'd be far away from your close friends and your beloved granddaughter, should you have a beloved granddaughter.
Well, there goes another good idea.
But wait! Jack Mingo has done research; Jack Mingo has a solution. He has a four-point plan. Using facts gathered from Minnesota Public Radio (Minnesota abuts South Dakota on the east and has some interest in the politics there), he outlines his fiendish plan. The quotes are from MPR; the ideas are from his brain:
1. You don't have to move to South Dakota to register. You just have to vacation there long enough to have a temporary address at a campground, motel or RV park. "In Hanson County, population 3100, more than 800 RV'ers are registered. Most have never stayed in South Dakota for more than a few weeks."
2. You don't have to be in the state when the vote takes place. "In South Dakota about 70 percent of the RV'ers registered to vote have requested absentee ballots."
3. It's legal. The law was deliberately written to make "RV voters" possible. It's a law apparently designed to help the Republicans, but we can make it blow up in their faces.
4. The tactic I'm suggesting is already being used on a smaller scale by the Republicans. In Minnehaha County, says County Auditor Sue Roust, "there's a slight Democratic edge in registration. Whereas with the RV'ers, it's Republicans 46 percent, Democrats 27 percent."
Added benefit: In the Alameda County district where I live, Barbara Lee is going to win every time she runs. My vote will not make a difference. Sometimes I've thought: Gosh, wouldn't it be great to cast a vote that actually means something, other than a hearty "job well done" for dear old Barbara.
This plan also might be a way of getting around the Electoral College. As a Californian, my vote in a presidential election means less than a vote by someone in South Dakota. But if I and 89,999 like-minded Californians -- not a large number compared with the state's estimated population of 37 million -- could become voting residents of South Dakota, zip, a red state becomes a blue state.
(If California becomes "in play" again for Democrats, we could switch back. I mean, it's probably against the spirit of the law, but then, the South Dakota abortion ban runs counter to several Supreme Court decisions. In terms of moral appropriateness, the bar seems to be set currently at "not illegal." And we meet that test.)
Now, South Dakota might very well become alarmed at the influx of Krugman-quoting, feijoada-eating, hug-giving Californians, and the Legislature might pass a law revoking the RV voter law. Well, then it would lose all the RV voters, and the balance would be restored, and we would have done our work without casting a single vote.
It'd take some work, but think of this: If we were successful, girls in South Dakota would no longer be required to ruin their lives because of one bad decision they made when they were 16. That would be a thing.