13 April 2007

The House of Misrepresentatives

American politics has become ridiculously polarized, to the point where the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is willing to travel to Syria in order to make her own foreign policy, but not to walk across the aisle of the House floor to talk with the Republicans. Our politics are so polarized that Democrats and Republicans fear and distrust each other more than they do, say al-Qaeda. (Because al-Qaeda may kill a few of them, but it can't really threaten their hold on domestic power.)

So how did this idiotic state of affairs come to be? I give you one word for it: Gerrymandering. Our state legislatures have drawn and re-drawn Congressional voting districts to advantage incumbents to the point that in any given year only a handful of Congressional elections are competitive.

The effect of this is that in order to win, you can't compromise. The voters in your district are dominated either by hard-over Moonbats (left) or Wingnuts (right). By showing any willingness to entertain the ideas of the other party, you merely show weakness to your own voting constituents. And then you lose. Compound this with a media that panders to the public's love of a good political fight, and you get politics that is progressively polarizing itself for no better reason that a positive feedback loop in the re-districting process.

What we need is for each state to have its districts re-drawn by a non-partisan committee of geographers, demographers, mathematicians, and a retired judge or two. People with a sense of justice and fair play with no major stake in the outcome. People who understand population distributions, and convex sets.

That way we could get Congresspersons who would have to demonstrate their willingness and ability to bargain and compromise. That way we could get a government that actually represented the Will of the People, rather than our current tragicomical lurching from left to right and back again. And maybe we could even get a more consistent and thoughtful foreign policy, that might do some good in the world rather than just kicking it one way or the other every four to eight years.

So Americans, unless you are a Moonbat or a Wingnut, your Congressperson does not represent you. Your voice has been Gerrymandered into silence. You don't count. And you won't count unless and until you get an anti-Gerrymandering measure on your state ballot, and vote for it.