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Cause vs. Symptom


While I wish a full and speedy recovery, both physically and psychologically, for those victims of yesterday’s horrific attack on Republican politicians as well as their families, I also hope this tragedy will jump-start a discussion on our worsening inability to disagree.

Some see the attack as another example of our gun problem.  One sarcastic pundit said, since there are more guns than human beings in this country, there is no excuse for the politicians NOT to be carrying a concealed weapon during baseball practice, so they could return fire at any time.  Also, since it was the Republican party that foiled Obama’s efforts to control gun violence, another pundit suggested that the photos of the baseball-field tragedy would do more than the photos of the Sandy Hook school tragedy.  Hyperbole!

Some see the attack as another example of the infotainment industry and the opinion shows that started on AM radio, migrated to satellite radio, and now appear on cable “news.”  The bombastic Rush Limbaugh now seems almost quaint and tame, compared to some on-air “infotainers,” such as the hyperbolic Alex Jones.

I see both the gun problem and infotainment as mere symptoms of the real cause, which is gerrymandering.  That is the act of drawing political districts in a particular manner, so as to insure the election of a particular political party.  The objective is to make those districts safe for either Republicans or for Democrats.  A district that is safely Republican is likely to elect the “most Republican” candidate and unlikely to elect a moderate.  Of course, the Democrats are also less likely to elect a moderate Democrat in a safe Democratic district.  Partisan purity is an advantage in a safe district but is a disease in Congress!

Gerrymandering discriminates against moderates and favors extremists, who cannot compromise and therefore should not govern.  As more extremists are elected, more hyperbole shows up in Congress, in the papers and on the airways.  Increasing hyperbole seems to precede increased gun violence.

Politicians cannot be trusted to draw their own district lines.  That heavy responsibility should be given to an independent commission of voters.  If politicians won’t let voters decide the district lines, that responsibility should be given to the courts.  Anybody but the elected politicians!

Some things are too important for politicians!

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