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Partisanship

12/06/2010

Normally, I am careful to avoid any discussion of politics, finding it seldom helpful. Both parties spin shamelessly. So, it may have been surprising to see me quoted twice in The Virginian-Pilot last Friday, referring to comments I made to a Senate hearing on redistricting.

Redistricting is as exciting as watching paint dry but terribly important. Because the borders of voting districts had been gerry-mandered years ago to limit the black vote, it was necessary to correct that wrong. But, in doing so, we have produced “safe” districts, i.e., districts that are safely Republican or safely Democratic, districts where incumbents oftentimes don’t even face a challenger.

I summarized a book called “The Tipping Point” which pointed out how a single small change can produce a very large change. My point to the Senators was that the tipping point was the design of safe districts, because it eliminated moderate politicians. Safe Republican districts will not produce a moderate Republican, as they must pander to their base. Likewise, safe Democratic districts will not produce a moderate Democrat for the same reason.

I described this as “the politicians picking their voters instead of the voters picking their politicians”.

I also likened the current situation to “an alcoholic who cannot be helped until he admits he has a problem. I suspect legislators will not be able to to fix this problem until they articulate it themselves and admit they have a problem. It is called partisanship.”

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