A popular slogan for the past couple of years has been “Rethinking Redistricting” but with the way some states handle the process, I am not sure how much thought goes into it. I would instead propose that “re-imagine redistricting” since it seems like quite a bit of imagination goes into some of the district layouts right now and given the highly charged political nature of the process, my proposal will be pure imagination most likely.
Previously I talked about the Electoral College vs. the Popular Vote here and mentioned that one option was to go with a Congressional District type of scheme that Nebraska and Maine currently use. In that piece I talked about how, for this to be successful, we would need to essentially end gerrymandering of Congressional Districts for political purposes and have fair representation. If that occurred, then the option shown to use by Maine and Nebraska could be truly applicable to larger states and as such become our national standard. As it currently stands, most states have drawn their Congressional districts in such a manner that a Democrat or Republican has a clear advantage in a majority of them, with a minority of seats being truly “competitive”. Ed: interesting that as I was writing this, The Fix, an internet political section of The Washington Post, did a story on redistricting and the political outcomes
What we, as Americans, need is for the redistricting/reapportionment of Congressional seats (and furthermore the State House and Senate seats) to be taken out of the hands of those who directly benefit from it. Some states already do this, such as Iowa who has an independent government body create a map and then send it along to the House and Senate for an up or down vote. California has a citizens board (the California Citizens Redistricting Commission) that is in-charge of its redistricting process, the largest in the nation. Here in the Hoosier State I was able to talk with Speaker Brian Bosma earlier in the year and he indicated a willingness to move towards Iowa’s system but that it would not impact their maps for this next cycle since the maps needed to be out so early in the year.
What we need is for our Congressional districts to be drawn to represent the people of a region, the diversity of a community. We don’t need all the Republicans on one side and the Democrats on the other. I don’t think our Founding Fathers envisioned scenarios in which one party would dominate the other so thoroughly in many of our districts. The United States House of Representatives was set up to serve the people and continually reflect the will of the citizens. If we are not getting an accurate or fair representation from those citizens because of how we have divided communities then our system is operating outside of the bounds of the Constitution.
I will admit to not fully grasping the Chicago community, but I still don’t see how the map is anything more than gerrymander.
Furthermore it shows that gerrymandering is not just about political parties but other demographics including race and income as the IL 4th and IL 7th, both areas in question, are represented in Congress by members of the Democratic Party.
In order to get the most out of Government, we need fair representation. Gerrymandering a Congressional district does a disservice not only to the constituents of that district and the populace of the state, but to all of America. Afterall, those 435 elected men and women are drafting budgets and creating legislation that impacts every single one of us, not just between 2nd and 8th Sts, North of Pine. It is time that we start picking our Representatives in Congress again, not having them pick us.