One of the biggest challenges to our democracy occurs when states draw congressional district lines with the principal goal of helping one political party and hurting the other. It’s called “partisan gerrymandering.”
Unfortunately, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled against a Fair Map in 2016. This year the Democratic legislature just ran out the clock.
Involvement is the key at the state levels as Reich says. The people of Ohio just voted to have an independent commission draw legislative districts. Organizing and activism is the best hope for making elections more fair.
And voting. And thereby getting judges in place that aren’t diametrically opposed to enfranchisement.
Definitely vote. But with an ability to work with organizations to make phone calls and send text messages from home using computers there is much we can do without even going outside. The backlash against Trump has got a lot people energized but it takes a lot of hard work to make better things happen.
There is nothing “democratic” about dividing a state into Congressional districts with only the two major parties given consideration, paired with winner take all voting. Even if a map were drawn with a reasonable balance of registered Republicans versus registered Democrats (registered party voters now a minority of eligible voters) - a nearly impossible goal given our modern mobile population - winner take all voting effectively insures that that no third party candidate makes it to the House. The entire system is rigged in favor of the duopoly. As long as the two major parties have a stranglehold on the system, there will always be gerrymandering. There is nothing in the Constitution that mandates this system. It was voted into power by the duopoly.
Now if Reich and his ilk were really interested in democracy and not just giving his party a better deal, Representatives would be elected on a statewide basis using some form of proportional voting or we could go to a Direct Democracy approach. That would stop gerrymandering in its tracks.
California has a system that could allow a third party to win. In fact, there is talk about a centrist third party making a run in California. People like Arnold Schwarzenegger could be involved in such a party. There are many Republicans in California who have found the party has gone too far right and are basically without a party. They could form a third party that had a chance of winning elections.
I would like to see that for the sake of third party viability, if nothing else. Thanks for the link.
A little late for the writer to figure this out. It was a democracy, but now it is a totally rigged system owned and controlled by the wealthy elite.
Indeed there is nothing in the constitution mandating only 2 parties. That this is all we are now in the US is a travesty of the sacrifices made by those merely seeking: Fairness.
That is what this country was supposed to be about. As the American dream began, fairness manifested as equality! Equal access to opportunity, and equality under the law; a level playing field! Trump’s presidency has ripped that foundation apart, and it may be too late to save it as Chris Hedges pointed out in an article posted today.
Dan I like reading your comments, heavy hand and all. Here, I was about to remind us all that newbies are becoming aware all the time, and we should greet them with a bit more charity. …Then I remembered the author was Robert Reich! OMG. He is one of the wealthy elite himself! I saw him on Bill Maher’s show and he seems to be slowing and looking to be known for waxing philosophical instead of what he helped Bush do to the economy after gutting protections with Clinton.
Gerrymandering violates our own American code of honor, by removing fairness from representation. To recover our national identity we all need to stand up for fairness.
Typical of humans, they have a range of skills in politicking. Some of them are quite talented, like Bill Clinton, and wind up in political office making laws to rule us.
Also typical of humans is the tendency of the rulers, gathering together a coalition and then running things in a way that the people left out find oppressive and unfair. People in this forum have voiced sentiments on both sides of the divide: right now many voices about how oppressed and dealt unfairly they feel. Not too far away speaking of people on the other side as unworthy of having their voices heard (climate deniers) or being given any consideration.
Political office has become so important, for the control the rulers can exert on others, that they will make great efforts to pervert the system in order to stay in office. That includes those so-call “independent commissions” to draw voting district lines. I have seen analysis articles that THAT has happened to California’s “independent commission”; it was taken over by Democrats and liberals, and districts were drawn to enlarge the control Democrats have over the state. California is described by many as currently a one-party state. And not well-run either. (Have you seen the prices for housing there?)
In the early years people thought geography, where they lived, and who they lived near, was the most important criteria for choosing representatives. That people near New York City had different interests that should be represented than Rochester, or Buffalo. Each should have a represented seat at the decision table.
Now a days we have a bad case of identity groupism and tribalism, and it is representation for blacks, for Hispanics, for women, etc., for religious and for atheists, that should have seats at the table. That can’t be done with lines drawn on a map. Party lists are a better idea, but maybe it needs a bit more work to get right…
If this (electing US representatives in a given state with proportional representation) were to ever happen, it only works in the bigger states - ones with at least 4 or 5 representatives. A state like Vermont - what are they supposed to do? Better (but much harder in terms of a constitutional change) is to have a body that is proportionally elected at large over the whole US. I propose the Senate - change it to 100 seats elected at large and leave the House the way it is.
Other polities with single-member electorates have statuary independent non-partisan/non-political authorities to determine electoral boundaries and to conduct elections. Here’s one here: https://www.aec.gov.au/About_AEC/index.htm and how it administers redistributions: https://www.aec.gov.au/Electorates/Redistributions/
and another one closer to ‘home’ http://www.elections.ca/home.aspx
Unfortunately in most of the U.S. the nearest electoral commissions/authorities get to ‘non-partisan’ is to have equal representation of Democrats and Republicans on their boards of management!!!
There is a general problem in societies not just in the U.S., of insular ignorance - although American arrogance along with a lot of swallowed baloney about the ‘world’s greatest democracy’ may be an additional obstacle to investigating and discovering if things might be being done better elsewhere.
Next social gathering use information from the above links to inform others that how things are done in America are not necessarily the best or fairest practice and in fact may be far from it.
“Party lists are a better idea”. Could result in representatives being all from one part of the state. Consider these: http://www.abc.net.au/elections/tas/2006/guide/hareclark.htm
or this http://www.elections.org.nz/voting-system/mmp-voting-system
Do you believe that the people should rule? Government by the people? The answer to your question is to take back the power from Washington DC, imperialist central Washington DC, and exercise it in your own community.
¿ Isn’t Vermont, small people-scale Vermont, a better state than a state defined by a monstrosity, all the people a pushing and a shoving, of New York City or Chicago? Or a place ruled by Pontius Pilate in the name of the Caesars of distant imperialist Rome (Even if you are allowed to send people to Rome to petition for your rights)?