Thursday, September 30, 2004

Fight Back Against Tom Delay and Gerrymandering

Our soldiers are dying everyday in Iraq. The administration's latest reason is so that elections can happen soon. Yet, here in the U.S., our own democracy is broken. The Economist has a good article on some of the systemic problems with our elections. NO WAY TO RUN A DEMOCRACY (subscription required), September 16th 2000, declares that:
The country's electoral machinery is badly in need of repair and a rethink.
Among the problems with our democracy listed are the influence of money, the electoral college, corruption and all the issues Jimmy Carter raised about Florida. However,
Out of all these creaking bits of machinery, two look particularly deadly. The first is those voting machines. Despite being given a fistful of money by Congress, many American states have opted for dodgy electronic voting machines.


The other great blot on American democracy--redistricting--has already made a nonsense of elections to Congress. Despite all the hoopla about the 50:50 nation, no more than around 30 seats of the 435 in the House of Representatives are competitive. In 2002, four out of five congressmen won their races by more than 20 points. This is because most states allow their politicians to determine the boundaries. The result is gerrymandering on a grotesque scale, with incumbents stitching up safe seats by drawing absurd districts that look like doughnuts, sandwiches and Rorschach tests.

This is not just unfair; it puts people off voting (why bother in those 400 districts where the result is a foregone conclusion?) and it drives politics to the extremes. With no chance of being unseated by the other party, a congressman's only threat is the partisans in the primary; so Republicans become ever more conservative and Democrats ever more left-wing.

I don’t know about Democrats becoming “more left-wing,” but I do know that with the latest round of redistricting in Pennsylvania, my vote here in PA’s 5th Congressional district is essentially meaningless. Yet of those rare competitive races, three of them are in Pennsylvania.

All three — Lois Murphy in the 6th, Ginny Schrader in the 8th, and Joe Driscoll in the 15th — are in the Philadelphia area, one of the most expensive media markets in the country. So even if my vote for Congress is meaningless, I can make a difference by contributing to these candidates. I’ve contributed to all the Kos dozen, and this is a chance to go the extra mile close to home. I am tired of being unrepresented in Congress. I want my voice back. If you are in a Congressional district which is not competitive and want to make a difference in the last weeks of the campaign please join me at and contribute to these fine Democrats.

1 comment:

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