Originally posted at Writeindependent.org on April 29, 2012
I want to set the record straight once and for all: I oppose gerrymandering, but I allow for redistricting. The Pledge for Honest Candidates touches on redistricting to address the problems of gerrymandering.
Here is the best article I’ve found that explains gerrymandering:
The facts from the above article help dispel inaccuracies that were printed in a recent article about me in the Peninsula People magazine. The article in PPM stated: “The pledge…calls for the reversal of the redistricting instituted by the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 as a means of quashing the long-accepted practice of gerrymandering.”
First, the Federal Reserve Act has nothing to do with redistricting. The author of the article received an email from me explaining that Pledge-signers would agree to “go back to the district boundaries set in 1912, before the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.” I chose that year because it was (according to the above linked article) “by 1912 [that] the House had grown to nearly seven times its original size, with 435 members representing the 48 states that existed at the time.”
If we could “go back” to 1912 district boundaries, we would have smoother lines to start with. If redistricting could start all over again with the 1912 boundaries, without gerrymandering, it would be a thing of beauty. Alas, it will never be without some kind of miracle.
That is why I re-wrote the small paragraph in the Pledge regarding redistricting to say: “That from this day forward, I will vote to give the responsibility to determine the boundaries of states’ districts in the U.S. House of Representatives to an impartial group of citizens not running for office wherever a state requires redistricting to apportion the population accordingly.”
The “impartial group of citizens” should follow the guidelines put in place by the Reapportionment Act of 1929 and congress’ own rules: that boundaries should be drawn to create districts that are geographically contiguous, compact, and roughly equal in population. Again, without going back to 1912 boundaries, it may take a hundred years to smooth out district lines and make them compact and contiguous again.
The second mistake in the above Peninsula People quote is that it assumes the practice of gerrymandering has been “long-accepted.” I doubt very much that it has been acceptable to anyone other than those it benefits, but if it were accepted, it was only because of acquiescence and a complicit allowance of the practice. People unfamiliar with the term “gerrymandering” have no idea what is going on, and most people familiar with it who don’t like it wouldn’t have the faintest idea how to combat it.
Lucky for us, a small group of concerned citizens helped write a proposal that fixes the problem of redistricting by appointing a nonpartisan committee to oversee the process, rather than the very same politicians who would benefit from mucking with the boundaries. Now, if only this same Prop 11 were passed in all the states with more than one district, we would all be much better off.
The most important thing I learned from the article I’ve referenced at the beginning of this post is that only about 100 seats in congress could go to either party. Gerrymandering has made more than 300 seats dedicated to the incumbent party. The only way things change in those 300+ districts is IF PEOPLE WOULD STOP VOTING THE FOR THE INCUMBENTS. If we keep this congress that can’t pass a budget, we have only ourselves to blame.
Stop the insanity this year, voters! Kick out your congressman and vote in a Pledge-signer. Not only would we get a budget passed, we can stop the egregious funding of campaigns.