Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gerrymandering is Bad Mmkay

Gerrymandering is bad. It reduces electoral competitiveness, civic engagement, and accountability. It shouldn't happen. If I were to start from scratch I'd have a system that looks something like the one in Iowa, where the maps are drawn to keep counties in one district wherever possible, and don't take into account party registration. The only difference I would make is to try to keep district lines as similar as possible to the old maps as a means of increasing voter awareness of their representatives and their district. Imperfect, sure, but far superior to the current system.

That said, in the current system, gerrymandering does happen, and it happens with brutal efficiency. Democrats gerrymandered the hell out of Illinois and Maryland, while Republicans did a number on North Carolina and Ohio. In both cases, the opposing party protested loudly and angrily that gerrymandering would destroy the democratic process by reducing competition, the essence of democracy.

And they would be correct. Since gerrymandering is done with the sole purpose of maximizing the party in power's electoral success, the party out of power should follow one singular rule: NEVER vote for the majority party's gerrymander. They might not be able to stop it, but they can make sure that the majority party can't claim bipartisanship support for a terrible map. Make lemonade out of lemons, and get some good press in the minority.

Unfortunately, in Pennsylvania it looks like Representatives Bob Brady (D-Philadelphia) and Mike Doyle (D-Allegheny) are encouraging their fellow Democrats to do a cardinal sin and vote for the Republican's gerrymander. What is worse is that the maps could fail if they don't gather enough Democratic support in the state House. There is absolutely no reason why that Brady and Doyle should twist arms on behalf of Republicans. If the maps are going to fail, let them fail. The current gerrymander is so horrible that any change that Republicans are forced to make would be a substantial improvement over the current map.

How bad of a gerrymander is it you ask? Well, this picture of the new 7th Congressional District tells the whole story.

That vomit inkblot nightmare is worse then I could have possibly imagined, and I was expecting some ugly districts to come out of Harrisburg this cycle.

So Reps. Brady and Doyle, if you are actually twisting arms to get this monstrosity passed, stop it. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing so. If this passes because of Democratic votes, we know who to blame for our electoral failure for the next ten years. So seriously, cut this shit out.

(h/t DKos Elections)

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