In an interview just before new years, in reference to the congressional voting district system currently in place, Tom Brokaw stated that “the system is rigged“. This could not be more true, as he continues to say that more “75 percent” of those in congress are elected in districts that are so thoroughly gerrymandered and divided that they are “bulletproof”.
“Gerrymandering” refers to the practice of creating voting districts with the intent to give a particular side an advantage. This is accomplished by packing as many people as possible on the “opposing side” into one district and then partitioning off the rest into different districts so that they cannot hold clout in any district but the one that has been drawn around the majority of them, and then they just have the one.
It has been going on for decades so what is so bad about it and why does it create such a problem these days? The fiscal cliff negotiations have really brought to light the lengths that congress will go to… to get nothing done but ensure that they keep their seats. It is irritating that they are able to take huge vacations when the nation is in trouble, and the fact that they can vote to raise their own pay (even though they did NOT this year, almost certainly because of all of the negative attention they are receiving for dragging their feet on the fiscal cliff problem), combine these and other problems with the gerrymandered districts and it leaves no reason to doubt the fact that that the “112th congress was the least effective and most disliked in history“.
Because of these districts drawn specifically to encompass areas which will vote a certain way, a given representative does not have to solve any real problems in order to keep their cushy job on The Hill. Once they are in office, they do not have to be at all effective at their job to keep it because the districts are drawn in such a way that the people who vote for their party will always out-way those who do not in their district. How can we call them “representatives” if they only represent a small, and specifically chosen cross section of the population in a given area?
Representatives want to give themselves and their party the greatest advantage within the limits of the law, but this system has run way out of control and no longer represents the collective interest of the population but rather convenient cross sections that preserve the status quo. Despite the fact that in the House elections the Democrats won over a half a million more votes than Republicans, the GOP remains in control. So a majority of americans want different governance and different legislation passed, but they will never get it because of rampant gerrymandering. It was actually concluded that Democrats would need to win the popular vote by over 7% to regain control of the house.
No matter which party holds the advantage, it just seems wrong that our “House of Representatives” is clearly very far from representing the wishes of the population, and that it would take such an exaggerated margin of victory in the popular vote to achieve what the majority of Americans actually want, all because of some cleverly drawn imaginary lines. Gerrymandering removes the power of voters and threatens to create a nation in which a realistic choice between two candidates does not exist. It is maps like this that highlight the incredible stupidity and impracticality that is allowed to persist in order for districts to fit the wishes of those in power. Arizona’s district two is clearly and blatantly gerrymandered to nullify the opinion a specific part of the population and to ensure that they never have a chance of having their voices heard. This is a despicable situation which completely contradicts everything our country was founded on.
So what is the solution? Take human bias out of drawing the lines.
The above linked page from rangevoting.org proposes using a computer algorithm to determine congressional districts, and I couldn’t agree more! The algorithm uses census data to create lines based on population, rather than letting even the most unbiased–“bipartisan” committees do not yield much better results– humans do the job. The best part is, no one can argue against using an unbiased computer and census data to create districts without outing themselves as someone who wants to cheat the populace out of a fair election. I sincerely hope, (though somewhat doubt… aaah the value that congress places on preserving the status quo) that this solution is proposed just to hear the frenetic and panicked arguments against it.
This twisted and blatant discrimination against voters somehow flies below the radar of mainstream media… I say: TIME TO GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY CLEARLY WANT. Lets make this an issue that cannot be ignored.
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