Gerrymandering has become a prevalent hurdle to meaningful political participation across the country (with few exceptions, including California*). The duopoly at their finest: if you can’t win by playing fair—CHEAT. The third most important electoral reform—thy name is gerrymandering. Attention Democrats and Republicans these are Independents exhibiting open derision to your sleazy ways.
Before we go on let’s review the first two important electoral reforms. The first is The Right To A Fraud-Free Counted Vote. This isn’t left or right, conservative or progressive, this is acting like adults and exhibiting excellence in elections. May the best candidate win. The bottom line, if you’re an elected official, you better deliver an excellent mostly frictionless, honest and verifiable voter experience—or your town/state/federation gets sued. Do your jobs. First things first.
Second, Ban Single Mark Ballots and replace it with approval voting. Approval voting is a giant leap forward in democracy, and it is incredulous that Independents and third parties haven’t rallied around this simple and elegant solution. Bottom line, after the first general election with Approval Voting, federal funds will flow to parties other than the duopoly. This isn’t about a third party miraculously unseating the crony capitalist duopoly in the next election—It's about getting funding to compete in the following—now—FAIR election!
On to Gerrymandering: both Republicans and Democrats have long done it to create safe districts, so both party bosses, behind closed doors, can choose the two candidates that will have money heaped onto their candidacy—to assure no reform candidate can even compete. At the moment it appears Republican districts are substantially skewed.
Sam Wang, a professor at Princeton wrote this in a recent New York Times Op-Ed,
"Confounding conventional wisdom, partisan redistricting is not symmetrical between the political parties. By my seat-discrepancy criterion, 10 states are out of whack: the five I have mentioned [Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin], plus Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Illinois and Texas. Arizona was redistricted by an independent commission, Texas was a combination of Republican and federal court efforts, and Illinois was controlled by Democrats. Republicans designed the other seven maps. Both sides may do it, but one side does it more often. Surprisingly absent from the guilty list is *California, where 62 percent of the two-party vote went to Democrats and the average mock delegation of 38 Democrats and 15 Republicans exactly matched the newly elected delegation. Notably, California voters took redistricting out of legislators’ hands by creating the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.”
California’s redistricting is not without its critics. Here is an article by ProPublica with a different take. What method or methods are used to reapportion districts nationwide remains to be seen. I believe that diverse citizen panels have to play a major role. Since eighty percent of all politics is economics, it would be interesting to see as one competing alternative how districts could be apportioned as closely as possible around the median average income of each State while keeping economic interest areas as intact as possible.
I do bristle at these analyses of gerrymandering that use how the duopoly apportions their seats as the primary criterion. There are now more Independents than either Democrats or Republicans. Perhaps we Independents should get our act together. We may not agree on economics, or where the line is drawn between the rights and responsibilities of the individual and the community—but almost all of us should be able to agree on omnibus electoral reform.
I’ll leave the history of gerrymandering to others, there is fine 2010 documentary called Gerrymandering, and it opens with both Presidents Reagan and Obama bemoaning the loss of the House of Representatives for their party—to the horror that is gerrymandering—those darn cheating “others.”
We, the People, are the ones being cheated by the duopoly. Many founders WANTED the House to change every two years precisely because if the country were going in the wrong direction then the People were to immediately chart the course correction. Now we just get the duopoly guaranteeing the same stalemates year after year.
In an aGREATER.US poll of independents, conservatives, and liberals where their ratings are given equal weight FAIR REDISTRINCTING has an astounding 96% positive approval rating. Is this indicative of societal opinion? The last poll I saw, in Florida, had the approval rating in the 70+% range. It does beg the question, what’s the other 30%’s reasoning? Might they be the hardcore duopolists?
Why can’t the ogre that is gerrymandering be slain? OpenSecrets.org states that just the top ten industries in the US giving over $3,000,000,000 (3 Billion with a capital “B”) to the duopoly for their reelection campaigns! Thereby assuring at least one of the parties will remain in power, and the system eternally deadlocked. Well played, duopolists.
What would the founders think of us letting them, the duopoly, get away with gerrymandering?