After a too-long delay, my lengthy study of gerrymandering is now posted.
This humble effort at political analysis attempts to shed light on a few under-reported aspects of a pernicious practice, including the chief malignant effect... which has been to render most contemporary American legislatures -- both state and federal -- largely ineffective as institutions of representative deliberation.
Can I back up such a bold statement? Recent evidence, includes a plummet in the exercise of Congressional oversight, use of subpoenas and other tools of advice and consent, vanishment of the give-take process of executive veto (none in five years of this presidency), a shifting focus onto graft and a plummet of legislator time spent actually in-session... all of which suggest that the legislative branch may have sunk to levels of self interested torpor on a par with the Roman Senate, during the imperial age.
While gerrymandering has done all this, and a great deal more, the press mostly portrays it as little more than a distasteful game of advantage seeking by the major parties. As a way to tweak a few extra congressional seats for republicans in Texas and for democrats in California. Worse, because the total number of seats that are stolen by the two parties roughly balance out, gerrymandering is portrayed as largely a non-problem.
However, my article shows that gerrymandering is far, far more than this.
Prospects for reform seem especially dim, since this problem actually has very little to do with partisan politics, as we tend to envision it. Rather, politicians of both major parties appear to be in collusion in what amounts to a campaign to protect the members of a professional guild -- the professional political caste. Far from paranoid conspiracy theorizing, this is actually a yawner, a no-brainer, that almost any professor of political science will acknowledge with a shrug. But we shouldn't shrug.
Contained in the article is a list of ten negative effects of gerrymandering upon American democracy, only three of which I have seen written-about in the popular press. Moreover only three others seem to have been discussed even in legal journals!
Indeed, one of the neglected points, could be useful in pressing the current suit before the US Supreme Court, challenging the outrageous Texas redistricting. Yet, I'd wager that it has not been raised before the bench. Alas.
The article concludes with a set of suggestions for how citizens might fight back. The most effective technique may be to reverse the trend of 50 years, toward registering "independent" -- or according to ideological loyalty. Instead, voters may be better served by registering tactically, choosing the party of their district, so that their vote will be most effective and do the most good.
Alas, there is very little time to try this technique during the current election cycle, since re-registration must be accomplished before primary elections. Hence a need for some urgency.
If you like what you read, do pass on the suggestion to others.
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While I am at it -- let me offer you a second dogmatic rant... er, I mean, a second erudite political rumination. This one is less time critical.
It recently struck me that far too little has been said, in recent years, about the impressively powerful piece of political polemic that first launched the neoconservative movement, a decade ago. I am talking about the Republican Contract With America.
At http://www.davidbrin.com/contract.html I have taken the bold step of discussing this historic gambit in the context of our later times.
No, I go much farther. In this article, I lay out a possible way that Newt Gingrich's original document might be turned around and used as a weapon against his political heirs. Heirs who have betrayed it, almost line-by-line.
I look forward to receiving feedback at http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/