Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Art Of Gerymandering

An interesting article over at Slate magazine shows one of the most bedeviling problems in American politics today.
Named after an infamous Massachusetts, of course, legislature named Elbridge Gerry, it is the way that legislative lines are drawn. From the city council all the way to the congressional level.
And, when one political party is in power at the time of the decennial census, they always try to draw the lines for congress, the state legislature, even county supervisorial districts to give their party the maximum amount of power.
In and of it self it is what politics is all about. Who gets the most out of their time in power.
One of the highlights of the article is the slide show that highlights the 20 most gerrymandered congressional districts in the United States. Of course it shows the overwhelming number are in Democrat governed states. Yes, there are Republican districts, but they are in the minority.
The point of the article is simple.
Is there a better way?
In reality, there is no perfect way. Bottom line, there is only perception.
Here in California, the voters this past November approved an initiative that takes the redrawing of the state lines, for the state assembly and state senate out of the hands of the state legislature. Now it will be a commission that would be roughly evenly partisan divided and with a number of "independents", or as referred to in California as decline to state.
The midterm elections of 2010 will be the first test of whether this will be a better way or just another scam.
California's legislature is Democrat-dominated. They have always packed the legislature and that is their prerogative. But, in 1980 and 1990, the Republicans, fought the process and were somewhat successful in 1990. The districts were not so gerrymandered that there was no Republican representation.
Allegedly, this commission will take the partisan edge off of the process. That remains to be seen.
But, it makes for great conversation and that is how it is possible to realize that this is and no matter what will always be a partisan process. It is how blatant the process is that often drives the other side crazy.
I would just like to see rational district lines. Whether it is to the advantage of one party or the other. The lines almost always make no real sense.
The Slate article is a good one and the slide show is eye-opening. And we will see if California's commission will do a better job in 2010.

HT: The Weekly Standard blog @

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