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Election reform anyone? pt. 2

Discussion in 'Politics' started by everlearning, Mar 23, 2012.

  1. #1 everlearning, Mar 23, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 23, 2012
    As yet another election year is upon us in the United States, I'd like to address an issue that has been bothering me for sometime now. In short, we are undoubtedly under-represented in both the Legislature and the White House, thanks largely to outdated political mechanisms in our electoral process. Or to put it more simply: our government is not chosen by the people it is supposed to represent. Instead has become a shill for extremists while it kowtows to corporate interests in exchange for limitless funding.

    Is there any way to realign our government with the will of its people? Can we have a system that forces representatives to listen to ALL of its constituents instead of just a small handful? I'd like to think there is, and while no system is going to be perfect 100% of the time, it is clear that democracy in the United States is being eroded by our current electoral system. Specifically, we need to change or abolish three mechanisms that exist today: the electoral college, redistricting, and first past the post. As this is an extensive topic covering three distinctly different political mechanisms, it will be broken up into three parts. This one covers the problems with redistricting.

    As a geographical region's population fluctuates, so too must the imaginary lines that define districts within both state and federal government. This is a process known as redistricting; which in theory is a fairly innocuous process to accurately track an ever-changing population. However, in practice, the consequences of redistricting range anywhere between the absurd and the downright sinister.

    Redistricting is a means to move the political lines to have it reflect a region's ever-flowing population. These lines are typically drawn up by bi-partisan commissions which is then voted on by the legislature just like any other law. And like other laws, the district lines are often redrawn multiple times throughout the debate. Hypothetically, redistricting is meant simply to redraw the lines to reflect population, but in practice, this is not the case. In fact, most of the time the lines are redrawn as a means to "stack" districts with the dominant parties' voters while splintering the minority voters into districts they can't win; this is called gerrymandering, and while it is typically frowned upon in most states, it happens more often than not. As a result, you have lines being manipulated in order to suppress any opposition. Worse yet, it is very difficult to prove gerrymandering, as people often move or vote differently in different elections. Not only that, but the culprits of gerrymandering are often sheltered from any sort of accountability for their selfish actions.

    Under our current system, about the only way gerrymandering is opposed is by gerrymandering from the other side. Clearly, this is not a system that honestly reflects the will of the majority nor does it serve any purpose but entrench incumbents in political office, thereby insulating them from any potential backlash from their own constituents. Ever ask yourself how so many people keep voting for the same idiot into the same office over and over? Gerrymandering is why. It only takes a brief glance at Texas' current controversy over state congressional lines to see just how gerrymandering suppresses voters (typically minorities) and perpetuates a broken system. Clearly, something needs to be done to address this problem.

    While its problems are easy to identify, a solution to gerrymandering isn't quite as simple as abolishing redistricting. Redistricting is necessary to accurately reflect how many people in each district, and simply ignoring population distribution has some very dangerous consequences (such as minority rule and consolidation of political power). Basically, we have three options to addressing the issue. First, we completely remove the legislature from the redistricting process and delegate the responsibility to a neutral entity whose sole job is to draw the district lines in the interest of competition. The problem is the line is still being drawn by people and people are easily influenced; corruption is still a factor as the entity or firm could easily be bribed or coerced to draw a few districts in a party's interest. While it might partially correct the problem of gerrymandering, it still fails as it is nearly impossible to hold an outside entity accountable for any wrongdoing.

    A second solution combines the previous solution with what we already have. The firm draws the lines in the interest of competition and the map is voted on by a bi-partisan committee. While this may seems like a simple solution to the problem of corruption, it actually has the opposite effect: instead of one party shifting the lines in their favor, BOTH parties now have the ability carve up the districts anyway they see fit, not to mention the firm charged with drawing the lines is doubly influenced (which doesn't "cancel out" the problem as some might argue, but instead exasperates the issue as both parties wind up compromising on which districts they get to control).

    A third solution is do away with people altogether and instead rely on math to solve the problem. Basically, the lines are drawn so that the population is evenly divided (or uses a 4:3 ratio if the state has an odd number of people) using the shortest line possible. The Shortest-Split Line Method is clearly preferred because it uses ratios and geometry to divide the population, the lines are incorruptible and offer the best chance at competitive election as political leanings aren't taken into account.

    Unfortunately, I am not aware of any state or country that uses algorithms to draw up their districts, so the solution to gerrymandering is more of an untested hypothesis than it is a concrete fix. However, it is clear that in order to have more honest politicians, we need a system that makes elections competitive and therefore forces candidates to keep close to the pulse of his or her constituents. Reforming the redistricting methodology would quickly ensure that politicians must listen to their constituents to get elected, not special interests and extremists whose priorities do not match the wants and needs of the general population.

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mky11UJb9AY&list=PL87DB3F7E8107A4AE&context=G27cef24UCGXQYbcTJ33b8UQ4L21haOwUKDHXMse7fIacyhaTQwO8[/ame]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering#Shortest_splitline_algorithm

    http://www.npr.org/2012/01/20/145532526/high-court-scraps-lower-courts-redistricting-maps
     
  2. I realize this is a very long post, that's why I posted the YouTube link. If you don't feel like reading, you can always opt for the path of least resistance.
     
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