A ten-parter by David Brin
(American Democracy: More Fragile than we think: The Gerrymandering Gambit -- now on my website.)
While “reform commissions” fiddle around the edges, fretting and tweaking voter registration and ID cards, the most insidious damage to our electoral process has already been done by politicians themselves.
Here is one topic that has been avoided at all costs. How extreme gerrymandering has effectively robbed most Americans of a vote...
....and how citizens may use some clever innovations of their own, in order to rise up and fight back.
Introduction -- American Democracy in the 21st Century:
... finger-pointing in all the wrong directions.
On September 19.2005, the Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III and sponsored by the American University Center for Democracy and Election Management, issued a report containing 87 important recommendations for how to improve the U.S. Electoral process, ensuring better credibility, accountability and confidence in the nation’s most basic political process.
The twenty-one distinguished members of the Commission - including leaders from political parties, academia and nonpartisan groups - focused on problems such as innacurate voter registration, individual voter fraud, corruption of local and statewide procedures, improved voting machinery, absentee balloting, and so on. (To view the report or a summary of recommendations, see: http://www.american.edu/ia/cfer/)
This bipartisan endeavor, initiated in response to scandals that erupted during the 2000 and 20004 election cycles, is clearly sincere. Many commission recommendations are laudable, even obvious, although a few sparked controversy. Especially a proposal to achieve greater security by moving toward more standardized voter identification -- a trend that is already underway nationwide, as states unify procedures for issuing drivers’ licenses. As I discuss elsewhere (e.g. in The Transparent Society ), Americans tend to be prickly over the notion of a “national ID card.” This will certainly be a hot issue during the coming decade, with technology itself casting the final, deciding vote.
Unfortunately, despite all their sincerity and wisdom, the commission ultimately nibbled at the edges, avoiding the worst problems and faults of our American electoral process. While some of the most egregious and blatant abuses from 2000 and 20004 may get fixed, nowhere does the report address a far more basic problem - that some American votes are more influential than others. Sometimes a whole lot more.
In fact, under conditions that are growing worse daily, millions of Americans who think they have a vote, do not actually have one. Not one that is meaningful, at all.
And yet, even those relics of the past are not the worst culprits. In the coming series of short chapters, I want to guide your attention down a path that this Commission - and may others - could and should taken, exploring one of the most horrific betrayals of citizen sovereignty. One that threatens the very heart of our democracy.
It is a path with many complex twists and turns (hence ten short chapters!) But when all of the effects are tallied, you will see that this problem adds up to something far worse than the Electoral College... plus vote fraud, corruption, miscounted ballots and all those other messy issues... combined.
Indeed, when it comes to certain types of elections - those that choose our delegates for the legislative branch of government - most Americans have been denied any chance to choose their representatives.
They have no real choice at all.
A Modest Proposal to Neutralize Gerrymandering.
By quietly and gradually cranking up a process called gerrymandering, members of the Political Caste - in both parties - have managed to effectively seal most of us away from the very franchise that we all consider to be one of our most basic American birthrights.
Alta Sedent civilis vulnera dextrae...
....(Deep are the wounds inflicted by civil strife.)
==Continue with series on American Democracy