Monday, November 14, 2005

Redistricting Watch: WaPo on the Way Forward

The Washington Post editorial board hits another redistricting home run today with "Redistricting Defeats," on why initiatives in Ohio and California failed last week and how other reform efforts can learn from those efforts.

I agree entirely with their view that "The most important is that redistricting should not be attempted in the middle of a census cycle - even when that redistricting is in the service of reform. Mid-cycle redistricting threatens to institutionalize the raw partisan politics that follow each decennial census and turn them into an ongoing state of affairs. That's what happened in Texas, where Republicans redrew the map after gaining control of the legislature in 2002."

The editorial notes, somewhat correctly, that neither the Ohio or California plans were "such partisan power grabs," and they weren't (although it was somewhat clear in Ohio's case what the result would have been). But by failing to work cooperatively on the proposals, in both cases the perception was that the redistricting effort was a partisan movement, and reform won't work like that.

The Post concludes "The broader lesson is that for reform to work, it has to be bipartisan and unpredictable in whom it will help and whom it will hurt. But the goals of reform should not change, notwithstanding this year's defeats. American elections are growing ever less competitive while squeezing out moderates from both parties and polarizing politics. This is in part because politicians get to choose their voters, rather than the reverse, and so they draw districts that are reliably Republican or Democratic. The system corrodes democracy."

Once again, I urge Congress to act on Rep. John Tanner's Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act H.R. 2642, which would assist states in the formation of independent redistricting commissions to redraw districts every ten years (see posts below for more information). Also, a cosponsor update to report on the bill: Washington's Norm Dicks became the 43rd cosponsor back on November 4 - slowly but surely!

Previous Redistricting Watch posts:
- "Tanner Calls for Hearings" (11/3)
- "WaPo Weighs In" (10/24)
- "Q & A with Congressman John Tanner" (10/20)
- "Governator Goes to Ohio" (10/18)
- "Schwarzenegger Calls on McCain" (10/11)
- "Broder's Right" (9/1)
- "WaPo on Prop 77" (8/21)
- "Prop 77 Back On" (8/12)
- "Updates from the States" (8/10)
- "Updates on Several Fronts" (7/28)
- "Cosponsors Update" (7/22)
- "How Exactly do you Gerrymander a Birthday Cake?" (7/20)
- "Happy Birthday Mr. Gerry" (7/19)
- "Federal Authority in Historical Perspective" (7/16)
- "Blue Dogs, on the Scent" (7/12)
- "Cosponsors Update" (7/1)
- "Links, News, and Views" (6/24)
- "Polarization & Collegiality" (6/24)
- "Centrist Action on Redistricting Reform" (6/23)


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