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WASHINGTON--Shortly after the cooling of the Earth, I, then a much younger man, worked in two statewide campaigns in Ohio, during which lifelong friendships were forged and many colorful characters were met. No character was more colorful than "Jumpin' Joe" Ferguson, who in 1970, at age 78, was returned by Ohio voters to the state auditor's office, which he had previously occupied from 1936 to 1952.
Ferguson--a short, energetic man--earned his nickname by forever bobbing up and down on his toes, apparently to establish eye contact with his taller colleagues. In 1950, Jumpin' Joe was the Democratic challenger to U.S. Sen. Robert A. Taft, an Ohio icon nationally known as "Mr. Republican."
During that campaign, Ferguson was asked his position on the two tiny Chinese Nationalist islands then belonging to Taiwan but coveted by the communist bosses of mainland China.
Reporter: "Joe, what about Quemoy and Matsu?"
Joe (proving that foreign affairs was not his strong suit): "I'll carry 'em both!"
From that day forward until Bob Taft's landslide Election Day victory, Joe Ferguson's one-size-fits-all answer to any question on foreign policy became, "Beat Michigan."
I like Ohio, which the last time
But Ohio, as we are reminded at least hourly, is truly the Epicenter of the Political World. Yes, there are other important swing states this year, including Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The remaining 41 states--where almost four out of five Americans live--are reduced to spectators, which the candidates only visit if they qualify as cam-
But the presidential candidate who wins Ohio will almost certainly be taking the oath of office at the Capitol next Jan. 20. You can forget the Big Apple and Big D and L.A. They're all chopped liver compared to Chillicothe, Steubenville, and Zanesville.
I guess I should be happy for Ohio, which has not had a lot of good news these last 30 years or so. But let's be blunt. The only reason Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, President Obama, and Vice President Biden are living in or near the Columbus media market is because of a historic mistake we call the Electoral College.
The Founding Fathers were not, it turns out, infallible. The Electoral College is absolutely anti-democratic. All Americans are treated unequally. Because each state gets two electoral votes for its two U.S. senators and an electoral vote for each of its House members, every state, regardless of population, has a minimum of three electoral votes.
This means that Wyoming, which in the most recent U.S. Census had 568,300 residents,
All we need to know is that of the scores of democracies created since World War II--the great majority of which were informed by the American example--not a single country has adopted, in any form, the Electoral College.
I'm a "college" dropout. Let's make Americans in all 50 states--not just in nine--count. Let's value every American vote equally through national, uniform voter registration and with candidates seeking support everywhere and from everyone.
I'm sorry, Ohio, the Electoral College must go.
Mark Shields is a columnist for Creators Syndicate.