Gerrymandering Kills Democracy

Portraitist Gilbert C. Stuart's depiction of an 1812 Massachusetts redistricting scheme favoring the political party of Governor Elbridge Gerry was the inspiration for the term gerrymander. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

There are many parts of the political process that are kept in the shadows. Civil Citizens may not know about them or only know of them in a vague way. Gerrymandering is one of them. Gerrymandering is when redistricting commissions draw voting districts in bizarre shapes for the purpose of having a “safe” seat for a political party. The district will encompass a population known to favor a particular ideal or party.

After the Census is taken every 10 years redistricting will take place to accommodate the change in population. If the population of an area has increased they may gain another representative for the House of Representatives in Washington DC, or a seat can be lost if the population has decreased. So, as you can imagine this is a very important process. A process that the people of an area should be very engaged in but most of the time they don’t even know it’s happening.

What is disturbing to me is the idea of a “safe” district. Often when interacting with my elected officials, I sensed a note of cockiness in them. I thought “Aren’t they afraid they won’t be re-elected?” but sensed no such concern. I was naive to the fact that you could actually fix a district so much as to take away the competition for a political party. They have carved up the electorate like a turkey claiming their favorite parts.

This lack of competition gives the illusion of Democracy but that’s not Democracy. I would like to see more Civil Citizens become aware and involved with this part of the process. Find out when and where this type of meeting takes place in your area and make sure that the process is fair and without corruption. This is an important part to being able to effectively engage your government. It is much easier to negotiate with a politician who will have to compete for his/her job at the next election.

Places to look for more information:

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/gerrymandered

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/the-most-gerrymandered-districts-of-2011/2011/09/23/gIQAbSdHrK_blog.html

http://www.gerrymandering.senategop.net/historygerry.html

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