By Craig Hardegree | 

States’ Rights. Conservatives love ‘em. Want ‘em by the bucketfuls. The Civil War, say they, was not about slavery; it was about states’ rights; about the right of each individual state to determine for itself whether or not to continue slavery.

When the federal government ordered all schools to integrate in the 1950s, the segregationist South balked; threw a huge hissy fit; said we are not one big unified entity under the control of a federal government — we’re a collection of 50 separate and independent states that get to decide our own laws; the federal government needs to butt-out.

When three civil rights workers were killed in Mississippi in 1964 by the Klan and the state-action of the police department of Philadelphia, Mississippi and sheriff’s office of Neshoba County, white racists in Mississippi screamed and wailed and gnashed their teeth over President Lyndon Johnson sending in an army of FBI agents and sailors from a nearby naval base — it was a usurpation of states’ rights of the highest order; the feds had no business interfering in state matters.

So when Reagan ran for president 16 years later, the first stop of his campaign after the Republican convention; the official kickoff of his bid for the presidency in 1980, was the Neshoba County Fair, 7 miles from where the civil rights workers had been murdered.

And the topic of his speech?

States’ Rights.

And all the racist Democrats in the South heard the shrill sound of the dog whistle and jumped off the Democratic bus and rabidly and gleefully and rejoicingly ran back and jumped onto the Republican train.

And when the red states wanted to make the first black president look bad, they dusted off states’ rights and said the federal government had no business trying to provide healthcare to the poor people in the red states…them’s our poorfolk…we get to decide if they die; not the federal government.

And in the 2012 election, Romney used states’ rights to explain the inexplicable…why it was okay for him to have invented RomneyCare and instituted it in Massachusetts but it was a terrible sin for President Obama to offer the same help to poor people in all 50 states.

States’ Rights.

It’s the core principle of the conservative movement.

It holds that we are not one huge seamless country with a black man at the helm.

No, gosh darnit, we’re 50 separate and individual states with conservative white males at the helm of the states that matter most — the red states.

States’ Rights.

It’s what allowed the most down-on-America, country-bashing, US-hating presidential candidate in history to get the most Republican primary votes of any Republican contender in the history of the Republican party.

We are Georgians; we are Virginians; we are Texans. And by golly, we’ll make our own decisions about things as a state…the federal system is simply a compilation of the separate and independent decisions of the individual states.

States’ Rights.

There’s no greater example of it than the electoral college — it’s pure pristine states’ rights at its best.


Each congressional district contains approximately 700,000 people. Georgia has 10 million residents. That means we get 14 congressional districts (14 x 700,000 = 9,800,000).

And each state gets two senators.

The number of electoral votes for each state is the number of congressional districts plus the number of US senators.

So Georgia has 16 electoral votes. California has 55.

Alaska, Montana, Wyoming , North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Delaware all have populations under 1.4 million (the number of people needed to have two congressional districts), which means they all have only one congressional district. So each of these states have only 3 electoral votes; 1 for the one congressional district and 2 for the two US senators.

There are 435 congressional districts in America. And 100 US senators. That gives us 535 electoral votes. As a result of the 23rd Amendment to the US Constitution, the District of Columbia gets the same number as the state with the lowest number of electoral votes. So add 3 for DC.

That’s where we get 538 electoral votes.

538 divided by 2 = 269.

So 270 electoral votes wins the presidency.

In 2008, President Obama won 365 electoral votes to McCain’s 173.

In 2012, President Obama won 335 electoral votes to Romney’s 206.


In 2012, conservatives were convinced that Romney would win.

That’s because conservatives spend all of their time around each other, confirming and reaffirming what they already believe, rarely looking outside for raw facts.

And what they knew, was they had never seen such a level of visceral hate and guttural disgust and dogged determination to throw out a president as they were hearing from each other about President Obama.

But here’s what they failed to understand:

States’ Rights.

This really isn’t one huge seamless unified national election.

It’s 51 totally-separate and wholly-independent state elections.

Let’s say Georgia has 6 million registered voters and 4 million of those actually vote. And let’s say Hillary gets 1,999,999 and Trump gets 2,000,001.

Trump wins all 16 electoral votes.

Now…let’s say conservatives are mad as Hell and they aren’t going to take it anymore; they want to shake up Washington, fallout and risks thrown to the wind; evangelicals are going to load up every church bus in Georgia and bus poor people to the polls to vote against their interests; preachers are going to keep the pulpits white-hot with damnation against Hillary; conservative Christians are going to be on their knees with prayer and supplication before the Lord, begging for Hillary to fail; they are going to say the Pledge of Allegiance extra loud, smite their hands over their hearts extra hard and stake the Ten Commandments in their front yards on real estate sign-frames — all like they did in 2012 against President Obama.

And let’s say it works spectacularly well; beyond their wildest dreams…not only do all 4 million voters in Georgia vote for Trump, conservatives are able to get an extra million to the polls who don’t usually vote, so the final tally in Georgia is 5 million for Trump, zero for Hillary.

Now how many electoral votes does Trump get from Georgia?


This is why national polls are irrelevant to presidential elections.

Selfish, me-first, survival-of-the-fittest conservative ideology runs deep. Hatred and bigotry and racism and misogyny are loud and odious. As the election gets closer, conservatives gin-up more intense support from within their own ranks; they get louder and more offensive.

The national polls reflect this extra hate and bigotry amongst people who already oppose a candidate; the increased intensity; the red states getting redder; the epic storm of Biblical proportions created by conservatives playing off of conservatives.

A tempest in a teacup.

That one cup may be mildly opposed to Hillary or it may be wildly opposed to Hillary; it can have tiny ripples of misogyny or a tsunami of misogyny spilling over the sides.

It’s still one cup.

And there are 51 cups.

The only polls that matter are individual state polls.

And right now, looking at the states that we know Hillary will win because they always vote Democratic, plus the states where Hillary is significantly ahead, she already has 272 electoral votes in the bank.

If Trump wins every remaining toss-up state, he still won’t get to 270.

If Georgia goes more intensely red; if Alabama hates Hillary even more in November than today; if Trump pulls ahead by 40 points in Kentucky…it matters not. None of that equates to a single extra electoral vote for Trump. Anything above 50% plus 1 vote in any state is a totally wasted effort.

States’ Rights.

Next time you get into a political conversation with conservatives, thank them profusely for their unwavering support of states’ rights.


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