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A Boring Christmas Wish

12/25/2015

My Republican friends in Virginia suspect I am a closet Democrat.  My Democratic friends in Maryland suspect I am a closet Republican.  They’re both correct.  The cause of this confusion is my profound belief that gerrymandering is just wrong — no matter who does it.  It is the bane of democracies everywhere.

Gerrymandering is the practice of drawing political districts to benefit one party or the other.  Currently, Republicans appear to be the worst offenders, but they learned the practice from Democrats long ago, who lumped as many black voters into a district as possible, in order to insure the black population would have some elected representatives.  Republicans quickly realized that the neighboring districts instantly became more conservative, with fewer blacks in them.  The downhill race was on – to see who could gerrymander the worst.

Today, Republican districts are more conservative than ever before, while Democratic districts are more liberal.  As a result, we are discriminating against moderates of both parties.  The result is gridlock.

In Virginia, there are 40 members of the Senate and 100 members of the House.  In the last election, 50% of the incumbent Senators and 71% of the incumbent Delegates campaigned without an opponent.  In other words, their district was so overwhelmingly Republican or Democratic that running against the incumbent was hopeless.  Who won — the incumbents, of course!

The law requires districts be re-drawn after each census or every ten years.  In those states where districts are drawn by elected politicians, who draw lines to protect their seat, lawsuits quickly follow.  After the 2010 elections, 42 states had to deal with these lawsuits.  Courts traditionally expedite these cases, because it is hard to correct the damage.  Besides Virginia and Maryland, lawsuits continue in Arizona, North Carolina, Texas, and Florida — five years later.  There is no assurance these suits will be settled before the next redistricting in 2020.  The system is broken!

My Christmas wish is that the extremely important function of redistricting be removed from incumbents and instead be put in the hands of a independent non-partisan commissions, such as Ohio and California.  Some things are simply too important to be left to politicians, who have a proven inability to be non-partisan!

That would not produce “peace on Earth and goodwill toward Man” but would be a positive step in the right direction.  There can never be peace as long as extremists continue to win elections.

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