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George.
03-31-2010, 10:28 AM
A proposal for our American friends, whose political scene is deteriorating...

Pass an amendment ending gerrymandering. End the horseshoe shapes and the long thin meandering districts. Either mandate a regular checkerboard pattern, or better yet, go for proportional representation by state. That ought to get rid of the most radical and complacent elements of both parties, and get some reasonable centrists to Washington.

How about it? Would both sides support it?

Ian McColgin
03-31-2010, 10:39 AM
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/96/The_Gerry-Mander_Edit.png/573px-The_Gerry-Mander_Edit.png

Not going to happen.

Ever since Massachusetts Governor Gerry did it so outrageously and was celebrated in the 1812 cartoon to the day a Republican governor tried to get rid of, historic irony and charm, the Governor’s decedent Gerry Studds by gerrymandering New Bedford out of his district, it’s been part of the political process here.

No one would agree on the rules. Like most political processes, it’s subject to abuse but the best fix is political, not “neutral” coercion.

Kaa
03-31-2010, 10:39 AM
How about it?

Good idea.


Would both sides support it?

Neither would, the culture of corruption is too deep.

Kaa

George.
03-31-2010, 11:12 AM
Getting rid of it would be impossible


Not going to happen.


Neither would, the culture of corruption is too deep.

Wow. And I thought Brazilians were defeatist when it comes to political reform... :(

Not a priority? I wonder: how many of the most intransigent troublemakers in DC come from "safe" gerrymandered districts?

George.
03-31-2010, 11:13 AM
Getting rid of it would be impossible


Not going to happen.


Neither would, the culture of corruption is too deep.

Wow. And I thought Brazilians were defeatist when it comes to political reform... :(

Not a priority? I wonder: how many of the most intransigent troublemakers in DC come from "safe" gerrymandered districts?

John Smith
03-31-2010, 11:21 AM
I'm a realist and a pragmatist. Some things are too embedded to change...

...I'd rather see the effort expended on eliminating the money influence in politics. Ban lobbying, and put far, far more severe constraints of contributions to politicians and thier campaigns. That's not likely to happen, either (it probably can't really be done without a constitutional amendment), but it does have a somewhat better chance.



ALL of them.
I think it's an idea with some merit. I'm willing to work towards it, even if my efforts fail. Who knows? Maybe it will get some traction.

I'd also love to see the filibuster limited to a single, one week delay, per bill.

C. Ross
03-31-2010, 11:25 AM
Baker v. Carr (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baker_v._Carr) already made disproportional districts unconstitutional.

It's just damned hard to determine if adding or subtracting an adjoining precinct has political intent. Redistricting gets thrown to "neutral" judges with some frequency, and you don't see terribly different district shapes in those states.

George.
03-31-2010, 11:30 AM
...I'd rather see the effort expended on eliminating the money influence in politics. Ban lobbying...

Now that I do believe is absolutely impossible. The best you can do is drive it underground, which is worse.

Kaa
03-31-2010, 11:50 AM
Baker v. Carr (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baker_v._Carr) already made disproportional districts unconstitutional.

The issue is not disproportional districts, the issue is gerrymandered districts.

Things are made more interesting by the history of gerrymandering :-) If I recall correctly, a lot of gerrymandering in the South was done to create specifically Black districts that would return Black congressmen -- at least partly at the insistence of the courts.

Kaa

George.
03-31-2010, 11:56 AM
Also, if you get all the ni****s in one district, they may get one representative, but the rest of your Congressmen can be as racist as they please. ;)

Kaa
03-31-2010, 12:03 PM
Also, if you get all the ni****s in one district, they may get one representative, but the rest of your Congressmen can be as racist as they please. ;)

It actually was a situation with no obvious good solutions.

Imagine first-past-the-post elections in a society with a racial minority and assume that race is a major factor. If the racial minority is more or less evenly distributed throughout the electoral districts, they can expect to win no seats at all. Zero.

That's arguably the biggest problem with the British system that the US inherited -- the minority in the electoral district gets no representation.

This problem was "fixed" (as far as I remember at the insistence of the courts, though I'm willing to stand corrected if that's not so) by gerrymandering electoral districts. It's an ugly solution that's quite bad in the long run -- but something had to be done in the short run...

Kaa

paul oman
03-31-2010, 12:05 PM
love to see it but both sides would see it as 'lose-lose' with more lose on their side than on the other side. American politics are all about 'what's in it for me' - a side truth if you think the citizens/voters should come first. Each party claims they represent the votes and after they get elected we always find that's not true.

That is what much of the debate on this forum is based upon - wild disagreement over amount and how bad the pay-offs are and how involved or not involved the citizens are (or should be..... i.e. Tea Parties, ACORN etc.).

Healthcare in American is not nearly as broken as Washington politics.

C. Ross
03-31-2010, 12:13 PM
The issue is not disproportional districts, the issue is gerrymandered districts.

Phenomenon which are interdependent.

Baker v. Carr dealt with Tennessee which had delayed redistricting so that there was strong under-representation in some districts.

The series of cases that the Warren Court spun out of Baker v. Carr directly prohibits proportionality and strongly but indirectly limits opportunities for gerrymandering.

The technical issue is that it isn't hard to create a safe district by combining adjacent geography that has similar characteristics. The democracy issue occurs when, say, a historically black community is carved into pieces so that the black vote is diluted into several districts rather than having some voting power as the core of one district.

Nowadays gerrymandering doesn't often happen to create racial injustice, it happens when parties want to guarantee as many safe seats as possible and dilute the safety of districts that vote for their opponents.

George.
03-31-2010, 12:14 PM
That's arguably the biggest problem with the British system that the US inherited -- the minority in the electoral district gets no representation.

Right. Which is why I suggested that you replace districts with proportional representation, and kill two birds with one stone.

Kaa
03-31-2010, 12:17 PM
...strongly but indirectly limits opportunities for gerrymandering.

Someone forgot to tell Illinois.

http://img.slate.com/media/1/123125/123054/2207789/2208001/2208423/IL04_110.jpg

Kaa

Kaa
03-31-2010, 12:19 PM
Right. Which is why I suggested that you replace districts with proportional representation, and kill two birds with one stone.

While the idea has theoretical appeal, the chances of this happening in the foreseeable future are as close to zero as to make no difference.

Kaa

C. Ross
03-31-2010, 01:11 PM
Someone forgot to tell Illinois.

They were told. They conveniently forgot.

Who in Illinois has the guts to challenge the party machinery? The Constitution only works when enforced.

Nicholas Carey
03-31-2010, 10:25 PM
A proposal for our American friends, whose political scene is deteriorating...

Pass an amendment ending gerrymandering. End the horseshoe shapes and the long thin meandering districts. Either mandate a regular checkerboard pattern, or better yet, go for proportional representation by state. That ought to get rid of the most radical and complacent elements of both parties, and get some reasonable centrists to Washington.

How about it? Would both sides support it?Iowa killed off gerrymandering back in 1968, although the redistricting process has been revamped since then.

The Iowa State Constitution requires that state and congressional districts be "contiguous and compact". The process is largely bipartisan and the commission that draws up the draft districts does so without access to any sort of political demographic data, even including addresses of incumbents.

Oddly enough, Iowa elections are actually competitive.

IIRC, the initial map from which the commission starts is drawn algorithmically, trying to balance districts of equal population against area v. perimeter. In the platonic world of the algorithm, the districts boundaries drawn would be something like hexagons or circles, maximizing the ration of included area:perimeter).

http://www.legis.state.ia.us/Central/LSB/Guides/redist.htm

In my dream world, this is a good start. In addition to the above, districts should insofar as possible respect political and geophysical boundaries and should be drawn without access to any demographic information save headcount in the census block.

But good luck getting the state legislature to agree to this. Gerrymandering benefits both parties and all incumbent politicans.

The only way I can see something like Iowa's rules getting put in place in any state would be through ballot initiative.

Flying Orca
04-01-2010, 07:13 AM
I really like proportional representation by state, but it would require a more cooperative approach to politics... and it's probably too complicated for the electorate.

George.
04-01-2010, 07:14 AM
Right. I thought the US was a democracy. If the people demand it, the politicians will have to support it if they want to be elected.

TomF
04-01-2010, 07:23 AM
George,

You started this thread a day early on purpose, didn't you? ;)

elf
04-01-2010, 07:55 AM
It doesn't matter. It's too late anyway.