Gerrymandering: Democracy and District Lines Essay
Each decade politicians become wound up for the political war of who will win the control of Congress for the next decade or possibly longer. One of the most effective ways of manipulating elections, shy of corruption, is gerrymandering. Gerrymandering (pronounced “garrey” mandering not “jerry” mandering) is the government’s advantage of one political party over another. It is the process of drawing weirdly shaped lines to define a district.
The term is derived from Elbridge Gerry, who was one of the founding fathers, who drew a weirdly shaped district that resembles a salamander, it was henceforth dubbed gerrymandering. One of the unfortunate truths in American society and political life is that although we are told that each individual vote counts, the reality is that sometimes people’s votes are less equal. Political power in Congress is based upon population, the bigger the state is, for example California and Texas, the bigger the reward is of more seats in Congress, rather than Rhode Island or Delaware.
The states with a higher population are appointed more seats and they get those seats from the states with fewer people that are counted from the census. The effervescent image of American democracy is that of a vibrant government that is open to change and subject to will of its voters, unfortunately this is an illusion. The problem with redrawing lines is that it eliminates the evaluation process that the public has by preventing competitive elections.
I feel like it is just another loophole, oppressive scheme for political officials to try and dictate against us. Politicians seem to have the mutual feeling that it is a birth right for them to represent certain districts but we are still in a democracy, not a dictatorship or a monarchy, we have the right to elect who we feel represents our communities voice most appropriately and violating that right by eliminating the person we feel best suites us from our district it is violating our Constitutional and substantive rights.
Most people however do not even bother to be concerned with gerrymandering and district lines. One man from Pennsylvania proposed a one thousand mile run across Pennsylvania and back strike to help regulate the matter of gerrymandering and behind him were zero supporters. It is also unfortunate that the public knowledge his efforts to eliminate this heinous act against us as, people do not realize how they directly are impacted by this.
Since 1980, there have been five attempts in California to take power to draw district lines away from politicians. Another great fight against gerrymandering that has been going on since 2002 is Proposition 11. Proposition is important because it helps reform the power of drawing district lines away from legislature and its conflict of interest. It pushes for two amendments that takes back power out of the hands of Politicians and grants it to the public.
Commencing this proposition arose the Independent Citizens Commission, which includes fourteen members that now hold possession of the redistricting of California; and it forbids from drawing lines that will favor parties, incumbents or any other candidate. Gerrymandering works at its worst when individuals of legislature decide to draw competition out of their district, they target individuals, and box them out so they cannot win in the next election.
For example, ten years ago in California democrat Howard Berman and his brother, was accused by Brad Sherman of redrawing the lines to give Berman all the power in the district. Recently because of the new proposition the lines have been redrawn causing a fierce and fair battle between the two. Gerrymandering is a technique that politicians use so they can circumvent any unnecessary dilemmas or opposition that comes their way. Gerrymandering is one of our governments best kept secret, and I am glad that there are people who realize it and are doing something about it.