Not exactly a short-term fix, but still worth it

Behind the Tennessean’s paywall, Mike Koprowski opines that in order to remedy the demagoguery and strife in Washington, D.C., we need to change the rules that govern how our congressional districts are redrawn.

It is not a new argument, and it’s one that has been made before on this page. The timing tries to dent the message: advocating for these changes after the 2011 redistricting invariably brings charges of “you’re just helping the Democrats be sore losers.”

It’s true that the Democratic Party’s recent losses in state legislative elections led to Republican-controlled redistricting in the most recent round. But, and not to sound all hipster about it, I was for redistricting reform when Democrats had the upper hand—which they did for a long time. Zooming out to a less myopic view dilutes the characterization that this is in any way a vengeful proposition.

Perhaps it won’t be necessary for the courts to be involved in the same way, but I’m hopeful that someday we can look back and have history show us a “Baker v. Carr moment” with regard to partisan-driven redistricting.

As it stands today, the system effectively makes meaningless the votes of anyone outside the party for which a district is drawn to heavily favor. This may or may not technically be disenfranchisement, but it can work toward a similar end. Independents feel forced to participate in a party’s primary where they really should have no reason to. And then you have the nasty business of crossover voting, whether treacherous or sympathetic.

So-called “third” parties? Forget it. Your convictions about advancing the ideals of Greens, Constitutionalists, or Libertarians are worthless too. In a Republican Party district, only Republican votes count; and likewise in a Democratic Party district. There should really be no such thing as a “branded” district.

Not only does it lead to the extremism that Koprowski decries, but it essentially means that, instead of an apportioned set of the population sending a more or less consensus candidate to Washington, a mere plurality comprising the most special interest-funded and/or gadfly-infused segment of one party gets to choose who introduces and votes on bills for the benefit of the entire district.

And you see where that gets us.

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