Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Many states not quick on the redraw
Alex Isenstadt, Politico, May 6, 2011
Countless numbers this summer will gather at their local Cineplex to watch more “Pirates,” the results of another “Hangover” and to be mesmerized by another group of “Transformers.” Hardly mentioned is another summer blockbuster in total 3D. Coming to a political theater near you is a decennial district drawing surely bound to be this summer’s biggest blockbuster, literally.
This show of political authority is decennial because it happens every 10 years. Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the decennial census is taken to not only count populations but to reapportion our House of Representatives. Their relative population determines each state’s share of representation. As people move and populations change, so does each state’s number of representatives in Congress. Following the release of census numbers this spring, each state was notified of their respective representation in Congress.
The 435 Congressional districts in our House of Representatives are redrawn every 10 years. This animated political restructuring is completed in most states by the their elected legislatures. But don’t think that drawing Congressional districts is done cooperatively in a bipartisan exercise. Partisan redistricting involves more thrilling action-packed drama than is often thought possible in our “do nothing” state houses. The ruling majority party controls all. When districts are drawn to advantage one party or one sitting incumbent it is called gerrymandering.
Gerrymandering is the rule, not the exception. In all 50 states, state legislatures will spend the summer selecting voters for the 2012 elections. District lines will be drawn to jerry rig elections for years to come. Majority parties will pack districts with voters who will, in turn, produce desired partisan outcomes.
This decennial district drawing has been affirmed by our Supreme Court as politically unavoidable. Gerrymandering is a form of political piracy that has gone on since the beginning of our republic. New congressional districts will be redrawn this summer based upon hung-over results from last November’s midterm elections. New ruling majorities have transformed state houses. With newly elected Republican majorities across America conservatives are bound to draw districts that will make recent midterm victories more permanent.
This summer’s 3D blockbuster is must see theater. There will be a sequel, albeit in 10 years. Our decennial district drawing, unfortunately, often goes unnoticed. Through word-of-mouth, maybe “we the people” might register enough criticism to warrant a different ending next time.
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