Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Gerrymandering Contributes to Washington's Gridlock

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Gerrymandering Contributes to Washington's Gridlock

Article excerpt

So, the deep thinkers in Congress managed to get a deal that would avoid the fiscal cliff disaster that they devised themselves, but not before demonstrating, again, how dysfunctional our political culture is. The deal that our leaders arrived at pleased almost no one. And the way they arrived at the deal managed to inspire fear in the markets and doubts around the world about our government's ability to meet challenges in any rational way. The worst thing is that we will get to do it all over again in a couple of months.

I'd like to say that things will go better, but I would be lying. The truth is that Congress will continue to careen from crash to crash. That's because we've set up a system of choosing legislators that rewards unyielding intransigence and rigid ideological obstinacy.

Most people's eyes glaze over when the discussion turns to gerrymandering. It's not just that they see the subject as boring. It's also that they think gerrymandering really doesn't affect them. They're wrong.

Gerrymandering in large part created the dysfunctional political culture we now have. It distorts election results to suggest a greater dominance by one party. In the 2012 election, Democratic candidates for the U.S. House picked up 49.1 percent of the vote across the nation. Republicans won 48.1 percent. But the districts were drawn so that the GOP actually ended up controlling the House, 234-201.

In Indiana, the results were more dramatic. Republican candidates for the Indiana House captured roughly 54 percent of the vote in 2012, but were able to lay claim to 69 of the 100 seats in the chamber.

When a system distorts the voters' preferences that violently, that system eats away at its own foundation- the principle that our government draws its authority from the consent and support of the governed. …

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