Tuesday, November 16, 2004

 

Free the House of Representatives!

Actually, that is, free the nation from increasingly (and deliberately made so) uncompetitive House elections.
Depolarization

The Moose is looking for some good ways to de-fang the extremes on the left and the right.

In case if you haven't noticed, the Moose is a mammal of the vital center. He eschews both Pat Robertson and Michael Moore.

The Moose finds that the U.S. House of Representatives has been transformed into an infuriating institution. It is increasingly becoming a moderate free zone. This is in part due to gerrymandered districts that guarantee incumbent re-election. The Washington Post noted this phenomenon in an editorial on Sunday,

What is to be done? One major driver of polarization is not rooted in unavoidable change: This is the scandalous way in which electoral districts are drawn for the House of Representatives and state legislatures. The redistricting triggered periodically by the census has become an opportunity for party leaders to create politically homogeneous districts that ensure incumbents' re-election and remove incumbents' incentive to represent the political center. Nobody wants to censor television or stifle citizens groups such as the Sierra Club and the National Rifle Association. But the incumbent protection racket in Congress is a different matter. It is offensive in itself, and the polarization of the nation's political elites provides a further reason to break it.

The Moose believes that a key element in any reform agenda is non-partisan redistricting along the lines of the Iowa model. The left and the right might not like it - and that would be a good thing.
Speaking only for myself, this proud denizen of the left would love it. A true test of one's devotion to democracy is that you are willing to lose by the rules. That you accept the results of a fair outcome even if it goes against you.

But what we have been getting in recent years is attempts by professional partisans on both sides to fix the outcome, or at least to influence it as much as possible by means fair or foul. The recent mid-decade redistricting in Texas is an excellent example. Why should Democrats not, then, try to redistrict as many Republicans as they can out of their seats in, say, California or New York or New Jersey or Pennsylvania or Illinois or Michigan?

But that would just fuel further partisan rancor, leading to a never-ending war the result of which would essentially be two separate countries, at least in terms of House representation.

Better to just draw up district borders as blindly as possible. But neither side is going to agree to this, and certainly neither is going to be the first to suggest it or to offer to do it first. There would be a bit of a "prisoner's dilemma" involved, in that you would be afraid that if you cooperated first, the other side would defect and thus gain a clear advantage, at least for one election cycle.

But that does not mean that it isn't a great idea to end the bitterness and viciousness about redistricting. If some bipartisan or nonpartisan group of citizens were to adopt this as their cause - and couple it with a proposal to expand the size of the House as the country's population swells - you might see it come to pass.

Well, a man can dream, can't he?

Comments:
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i was just browsing through the blog world searching for the keyword posters and it brought me to your site. You have a great site however it is not exactly what i was looking for. Good luck on your site. sincerely, antonio.
 
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Comments: "
i was just browsing through the blog world searching for the keyword posters and it brought me to your site. You have a great site however it is not exactly what i was looking for. Good luck on your site. sincerely, antonio.
 
" "
i was just browsing through the blog world searching for the keyword posters and it brought me to your site. You have a great site however it is not exactly what i was looking for. Good luck on your site. sincerely, antonio.
 
" Post a Comment

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