About Me

In writing the "About Me" portion of this blog I thought about the purpose of the blog - namely, preventing the growth of Socialism & stopping the Death Of Democracy in the American Republic & returning her to the "liberty to abundance" stage of our history. One word descriptions of people's philosophies or purposes are quite often inadequate. I feel that I am "liberal" meaning that I am broad minded, independent, generous, hospitable, & magnanimous. Under these terms "liberal" is a perfectly good word that has been corrupted over the years to mean the person is a left-winger or as Mark Levin more accurately wrote in his book "Liberty & Tyranny" a "statist" - someone looking for government or state control of society. I am certainly not that & have dedicated the blog to fighting this. I believe that I find what I am when I consider whether or not I am a "conservative" & specifically when I ask what is it that I am trying to conserve? It is the libertarian principles that America was founded upon & originally followed. That is the Return To Excellence that this blog is named for & is all about.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Eliminating Gerrymandering Induces Term Limits

In 1988 President Reagan began his campaign against what he called the "national scandal" that has followed every constitutionally required decennial census since 1810 – namely the practice of Gerrymandering – the age-old antidemocratic un-American practice of legislatures drawing new congressionally mandated electoral district boundaries that distort & bend the shape of congressional districts for the purpose of ensuring the election of politically favored politicians.
The term Gerrymander was named after Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry who was instrumental in the redrawing of a state senate district that resembled a salamander – see cartoon below that appeared in the Boston Gazette newspaper on March 26, 1812 that satirized the odd shaped district that had been drawn to obtain every possible vote needed to ensure victory for the candidate preferred by the party in power.
click on cartoon to enlarge
Calling for term limits always rates high in political polls.  Working to replace the current politically manipulated redistricting system with a computer programmed to divide each state into congressional districts with the smallest perimeter possible produces compact districts without identifying the residents' party, gender, or race.  In other words such a change gives us a chance for unbiased elections & in essence term limits.  The computer would redraw the districts in each state after every decennial census so the boundaries of each district would change more as a function of people moving than politicians purposely rigging elections by drawing districts resembling salamanders.
It is important to understand that the primary goal of Gerrymandering is to place as many supporters of the party out of power into as few districts as possible meaning the party in power gets the maximum bump from their supporters in the most districts possible & therefore maintains political control.  This obviously takes a computer to program such districts so why not change the computer program to find the most nondiscriminatory geographically compact districts possible which has benefits for everyone except career politicians?  See graphic below.
click on graphic to enlarge
Gerrymandering is the root reason why people eligible to vote become disinterested.  For example – in NJ 91% of general election races for the House & 97% of state Senate races were won by greater than 10% margins & 75% were won with over 20% margin landslides.  These margins for 2012 are typical of previous elections & in 2020 the districts will be redrawn to protect preferred politicians thereby perpetuating the cycle of turning off people eligible to vote.  Today there are more people eligible to vote who do not vote than there are people who will vote for any presidential candidate.
I have always thought that primaries are more important than general elections – if you don't vote in the primary you are left with whomever someone else picks to vote for in the general.  Election laws in most states further exacerbate the voting predicament described above in that primaries become even less relevant.
For example in the 2012 NJ primary turnout was only 8.8% of registered voters.  Because of election laws that require people to declare party affiliation there were 2.62 million unaffiliated voters who could not vote in the primary – this represents 48% of registered NJ voters who were shut out from the electoral process not because of poll taxes or voter ID requirements but because of election laws favoring the two party system.  There are 1.79 million registered Democrats & only 1.08 million registered Republicans in NJ who decided the general election candidates with an 8.8% turnout.
Turnout in the 2014 Virginia district 7 primary was 13.7% – this is the race Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost to Professor Dave Brat 7.6% of registered voters to 6.1%.  There had not been one Virginia district since 2006 that had a primary turnout greater than 10% so this race that brought out an additional 20,000 primary voters showed the power of the people in a positive anomaly in that Dave Brat has not disappointed since being elected & Cantor always did when it counted. 
But the worst part of the current electoral system is that people realize more & more every day that there is no difference between the two parties – or put another way there is only one Big Government Party with a Republican wing & a Democrat wing who take turns being in office @ our expense as obviously illustrated by the salamander shaped districts.
For instance in 2013 following the death in June of incumbent NJ Senator Frank Lautenberg Governor Christie appointed NJ AG Jeff Chiesa to fill the Senate vacancy until an October special election.  On his first day in Washington Chiesa (a self described conservative Republican) voted to reauthorize agricultural programs (subsidies) through 2018 meaning there was no difference in the vote this Republican cast & the vote the deceased Lautenberg would have cast.  The bill was 1,150 pages long which makes me wonder if he, or anyone else, read it before voting.
Click here to hear a radio interview with Jeb Bush explaining that he thinks the best part of BO's administration the past six plus years is the enhancement of the NSA mega data program.  The announcer virtually had to put words in Jeb's mouth for him to say anything you would have thought would have rolled off his tongue when asked a question about a political adversary.  But in Jeb & BO we are talking about members of the one Big Government Party & this is highlighted in this brief radio comment.
Two more recent examples - Defense Secretary nominee Ashton Carter responded very poorly in his confirmation hearings yet was confirmed by the Senate 93 to 5.  And just last week Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch whose position on illegal immigration is as lawless as BO's was confirmed 56 to 43 by the Senate with Ted Cruz not voting.
Senator Cruz said "this nominee has given every indication she would continue the Holder Justice Department's lawlessness.  There are more than a few voters back home that are asking what exactly is the difference between a Democratic & Republican majority when the exact same individual gets confirmed as attorney general."
The Republicans have the Senate majority & both the cloture vote & the actual nomination vote for Lynch could have been blocked by this majority.  Instead Lynch was confirmed as AG as if the Democrats were the majority.
All Senate Democrats voted for Lynch.  The following Senate Republicans also voted for Lynch.
Ayotte (NH), Cochrane (MS), Collins (ME), Flake (AZ), Graham (SC), Hatch (UT), Johnson (WI), Kirk (IL), McConnell (KY), & Portman (OH).
The two schools of thought are – 1) a president is entitled to the cabinet personnel he nominates if the Senate confirms their qualifications for the position, & 2) each member of Congress is elected to represent his constituents & vote accordingly on nominees.
The first school of thought is for politicians to go along to get along keeping everyone happy (except ultimately the citizenry) while the second school of thought is another way to keep government under control by bottling it up – which pays dividends no matter whether Democrats or Republicans are in power.
Now if you are part of "more than a few voters back home" that have been repulsed by the American electoral system I hope you can see that the Gerrymander redistricting process vividly described hereinbefore ensures that it is no coincidence that we keep getting unsatisfactory candidates & electoral results that turn people off & away from participating in the direction our Republic takes.  Even more important it tilts the board in favor of the enrichment of the elite high energy politicians leaving many people who would like to contribute with a feeling of hopelessness.
Sadly President Reagan's illness did not let him carry out his plan of exposing & correcting the Gerrymander abomination – I had so looked forward to his leadership in this.  But if you see the importance of this matter you have access to your congressman & state representatives who can help.  Redrawing congressional districts via a computer programmed to find the smallest perimeter possible for each nondiscriminatory geographically compact district is far superior to the Gerrymander way & will correct one of the biggest connivances our nation faces.
Of course realizing the benefits of such a change will take the persistent urging & involvement of the citizenry & in an apathetic entitlement society where everyone is busy enjoying America, while they still can, it is never thought of.  In fact far too many people do not know what their district looks like or even who their congressman is. 
But click here to see the Columbia University Law School's report entitled Draw Congress: Redistricting and Gerrymandering which draws all 435 congressional districts following several different parameters such as 1) political subdivision lines, such as counties and cities, 2) maximization of political competition by creating as many districts as possible that are evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, & 3) attempts to achieve proportional representation by producing districts that are likely to reflect the underlying partisan division in the state.
I was glad to see that NJ's district #12 could be redrawn as one of the smallest districts in geographic area in the state instead of one that sprawls from sea to shining Delaware River like it has for years.

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