Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Reforming Re-Districting

This is just an off-the-wall post inspired by something I was reading in the comments of another blog. It seems that a lot of our political problems of the last couple of decades can be traced to re-districting battles. These regular affairs (well, regular until the Republicans started futzing with the system) have led to an increased number of "safe seats" for both Democrats and Republicans. This means that these elected representatives can stand to be more extremist in their viewpoints without suffering at the ballot box. What are the people in their district going to do? Vote for someone from the opposing party? Which brings me to my question and my thought. Question: Why are politicians involved in the drawing of their own congressional districts? Thought: Why not just design a system that randomly redraws the district lines every 10 years and then let the normal electoral process sort out the results? Consider it: if congress-critters could no longer influence the borders of their own districts they would no longer have mortal locks on their seats. They might have to actually act more representative if they want to win the votes of their constituents. It could actually produce a natural form of term-limits. Of course, this means that the people they represent will change every 10 years, which means they might not be able to build long-term relationships with certain constituents. But is that necessarily a bad thing? Imagine if some congressman is in the pocket of the local used-car salesman but then, his district is shifted and suddenly he no longer represents the area that that salesmen operates in. Voila! Decreased corruption and graft! And the people in those districts will have to re-learn every 10 years who their representative is. Again, is this a bad thing? Maybe it would increase electoral participation. What if the random re-drawing results in two sitting congressman living in the same district? Well, they can run against each other or one of them can move. There is, after all, no Constitutional right to an easy election. Is this just a crazy idea? Could I be on to something or should I just shut up? Let me know.

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