Friday, June 24, 2005

Redistricting Watch: Links, News, and Views

My post from yesterday morning about the bipartisan redistricting bill proposed by Rep. John Tanner has been widely linked (thanks all!) and commented on. Check out posts and comments at non-fat latte liberal, The Yellow Line, Balloon Juice, and The Moderate Republican, among others. I'm glad to see this great response - this is quickly turning into one of the big issues I intend to focus on, so I've added a 'header' to the title: any post prefaced by "Redistricting Watch" will deal with this topic, and then I'll add another short title to try and indicate the specific contents. I hope that all of you will be as interested in the subject as I am and will want to read each post, but if not, the header will tip you off and you can skip right by.

Each Friday (or so) I'm going to try and provide an update of House members who have signed onto Tanner's bill as co-sponsors: just yesterday two more representatives signed on, bringing the total to 23 (including Tanner). The original co-sponsors from May 25, with their party affiliation and district, were: Tanner (D-TN-8), Jim Cooper (D-TN-5), Ben Chandler (D-KY-6), Jim Costa (D-CA-20), Dennis Cardoza (D-CA-18), Allen Boyd (D-FL-2), Ed Case (D-HI-2), Dennis Moore (D-KS-3), Adam Schiff (D-CA-29), Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN-9), and Jim Matheson (D-UT-2).

On June 8, the original sponsors were joined by Leonard Boswell (D-IA-3), John Lewis (D-GA-5), Tom Udall (D-NM-3), Stephanie Herseth (D-SD), and Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY-4). Charlie Melancon (D-LA-3), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3), and Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) signed on June 14. Zach Wamp (R-TN-3) became the first Republican to join the bill (as noted yesterday) when he joined on June 17, along with Bob Filner (D-CA-51).

Just yesterday, June 23, Major Owens (D-NY-11) and Tim Holden (D-PA-17) became the twenty-second and twenty-third co-sponsors of the bill. I'll list any new supporters next week, and I would again urge any of you out there whose members have not signed on (and that's just about everybody) to make your voices heard on this important issue. It's not going to be an easy task to persuade incumbent legislators to put the future of our democracy ahead of their own self-interest, but this idea certainly won't go anywhere if people go in thinking we'll lose. It might take a long time, it might be a hard fight ... but isn't that better than surrendering before the fight begins?

Finally today, I want to pass along a few of the editorials that have been written about the redistricting proposal as introduced. The Indianapolis Star this week wrote in support of Governor Schwarzengger's redistricting plan, calling both his specific proposal and redistricting in general "a long overdue reform that would do far more than term limits to return politics to the people." Back on June 4, the Minneapolis Star Tribune editorialized that "the decline in competitive districts helps explain the bitterly divisive atmosphere in Washington and a growing divide in state capitals. ... House members of both parties should be embarrassed if they do not sign onto this bill."

While I'm afraid not much of anything embarrasses most House members anymore, the StarTrib is right. Let's start moving this bill forward, and reclaim our democracy.

[Update: By popular request (thank you!): the Tanner bill is H.R. 2642, the Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act of 2005. You can find your representative's contact information and email them directly here. More info on the bill itself in yesterday's post, here. -- 3:56 p.m.]

[Update: Another op/ed from today to add, this one from John Farmer in the Newark Star-Ledger. Farmer writes "the process of redrawing the 435 districts every 10 years has become a national embarrassment and the root cause of political stalemate in the Capitol." He calls the current redistricting process (great phrase!) "a bipartisan conspiracy against the public interest."

"It's nothing new," Farmer adds. "It's been going on under the noses of a largely indifferent public for years. But over time it has produced a set of Democratic districts that are increasingly liberal and Republican districts that are increasingly conservative - and increasingly uncompetitive in each case. ... No improvement in how the House does business - especially how its members are selected and its districts drawn - is possible without major public pressure for change. And the public doesn't seem to care that much," Farmer concludes.

It's well past time to start caring. -- 4:15 p.m.]


At 3:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about listing the number (HR nnnn) for the web-search challenged (or just slothful) among us? Makes it a little easier to tell the Congressman which bill we are prodding him about.

At 3:57 PM, Blogger JBD said...

Just updated with the info - thanks for reminding me!

At 5:02 PM, Blogger Brian Dunlop said...

Jbd do you know JBL?

At 5:56 PM, Anonymous Phil S said...

Didn't notice any republicans listed as co-sponsors? Does this proposal have any real chance?

At 5:59 PM, Blogger JBD said...

Phil: As noted, Zach Wamp (TN) became the first GOP cosponsor last week; the bill's only been around for a month, we have to give it a little bit of time before writing its obituary. Does it have a chance this year? Maybe not. But does that mean we ought to ignore it? I don't believe so.

At 9:42 PM, Blogger "A Brown" said...

Sadly, this bill is still going nowhere because there are far too many barriers. Even campaign finance reform had less institutionalized opposition than an anti-gerrymandering bill would encounter, and campaign finance only passed thanks to the collapse of Enron. Also, there is a question if this bill is Constitutional. Historically, the power of districting is reserved for the states and it is not clear how Congress can claim power over it.

At 9:51 PM, Blogger JBD said...

A: There are only barriers if we let there be barriers. There are no limits to what a group of dedicated Americans can do if they put their minds to it. Where's your sense of optimism?

As for the constitutional argument: Article I, Section 4: "The Times, Places, and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulation, except as to the Places of choosing Senators. Also see Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment, and Section 5 for the enforcement power.

Of course state solutions would be preferable, and some states (Iowa, Arizona, Washington) are already there. Let's have the rest. If they won't do it themselves, let's prod them a bit.

At 11:22 PM, Blogger La Bona said...

Nice blog. Keep it up ...

Hi there

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Also, what do you think of the recent “Pharmacists Refused Contraceptive Prescriptions”.

Do you think Pharmacists have the rights to Play God?


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