Centrist Action on Redistricting Reform
Republican Rep. Zach Wamp on Wednesday joined his Tennessee colleague John Tanner in co-sponsoring legislation that would fundamentally reform the way Congressional district boundaries are drawn, reports The Hill. "Too many Congressional districts have been carefully designed to guarantee victory for one political party or another. As the political lines become more skewed, successful candidates are increasingly more interested in political rhetoric than solutions and serving the public," Wamp said in a statement.
Tanner's bill, introduced May 25, is titled the Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act. It "calls for an independent, bipartisan commission in each state to redraw Congressional district maps every 10 years and restricts redistricting efforts from taking place between census cycles," according to a press release.
Of the idea behind the bill, Tanner said "Partisan politicians have hijacked the electoral system through redistricting. Voters have lost much of their say in who they hire to represent them in Washington. We need to reform the process to put the House of Representatives back in the hands of the people as it was designed to be."
Tanner continues, noting "The political center has been disappearing in Washington. Part of the reason is that so many Congressional districts have been designed to guarantee victory for one political party or another, paving the way for partisan extremists unwilling to work cooperatively with others toward the best interest of the country. The result is political polarization and tyranny of the majority, which is dangerous in any country or state where one party controls every branch of government."
The specifics of the FIRA are outlined well here. It has attracted support already from FairVote, the Center for Voting and Democracy chaired by John Anderson, former centrist Republican congressman and 1980 independent presidential candidate. Anderson said of the bill "It's just wrong to allow politicians to help their friends and hurt their enemies in what should be a public interest process. Seeking redistricting reforms in states can be valuable but too often is motivated by partisan calculations. We need national standards for elections that affect all of us."
Wamp is the first Republican to join Tanner's effort, joining nineteen Democrats so far.
Redistricting reform is a vital issue for all centrists, and I am more than a little delighted that Wamp has joined the fight. I am going to stay very active on this front. As a first step, I would encourage everyone to call or fax their representative's office and urge them to support Tanner's bill - its passage would be a giant leap forward for centrism.
[Update: I've got a new post on this issue here. -- 23 June, 4:30 p.m.]