One thing that always surprises me as I watch our political
cartoons... uh, theater... uh, process work is how so many of our Representatives keep their jobs--election cycle after election cycle. How is it that these leaders aren't fired and replaced. Maintaining an approximately 20% job approval rating, or less will get most of us fired. Why not our Representatives in Congress?
We all know how corrupting the influence of
Big Money is on our political system, no question. We all know that the vast majority of voters are apathetic, under or misinformed about the candidates and issues. Some of us may suspect voter fraud rightly or wrongly. We all know these issues are partly responsible for why corrupt incumbents are continually
I'd like to bring another problem to the forefront of knowledge for voters. This is the issue of Gerrymandering.
In the process of setting electoral districts, gerrymandering is a practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party
or group by manipulating geographic boundaries
to create partisan or incumbent-protected districts.
-- from Wikipedia
This issue of manipulative legislative redistricting is a serious and little discussed problem in our country. Gerrymandering is why many of our Representatives win re-election. You only have to search a little while to find examples. Note: slide your cursor over the maps to see the effects of redistricting here.
Another serious result of gerrymandering is evident in the partisanship we see in Congress. When a Representative only has to appeal to members of his/her own party, or when that Rep is held to account by extreme elements in that party, he/she will do as the party demands. By only focusing on the party members in their district individual leaders rarely have to build coalitions of diverse voters from different parties, races, or people of different economic and social classes. The politician rarely has to practice the skills necessary to reach bipartisan agreements when in office and they are never held accountable by a diverse electorate.
Preaching to the choir is easy when everyone only knows one song!
How do we fix it? In the majority of cases the legislative redistricting decisions are made at the State level. In my state of Washington we are a referendum/initiative State. The people here can pressure, through these devices, our state legislators to redraw the districts fairly. We have the power locally to do this. Your state may do redistricting differently, but the voter still has the ultimate power to effect change.
If Americans want to regain control of the political landscape, we need to regain control of Congress. Addressing the issue of Gerrymandering legislative districts is one problem we need to focus on.
Note: this article is about party, but it is not about bashing the other party. If you cannot restrain the urge please write your own article, or go to any of the many articles that allow it. They are easy to find, and probably a lot more fun than this article. Be nice, or be gone!
by C. Cory Spencer