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Sun Jan 13, 2013, 03:05 PM

The House GOP canít be beat: Itís worse than gerrymandering

Congress is broken, and everyone knows it. Its approval ratings hover around 10 percent, and a recent poll from Public Policy Polling found that Congress is currently less popular than cockroaches, lice and traffic jams. It has difficulty getting any sort of business done, let alone address our nationís major challenges, like climate change, immigration, poverty and fiscal policy.

But amidst the partisan fingerpointing and bickering, one core aspect of the way our government works gets a free pass. We hear a lot about campaign finance and gerrymandering, but single-member district elections Ė that is, having each House member represent one congressional district Ė are without doubt the single greatest cause of what is broken about Congress. They are the key reason why Republicans easily kept control of the House despite losing the popular vote to Democrats, and why the political center has lost out to partisans on both sides of the aisle. They turn four out of five voters effectively into spectators who have absolutely no chance of affecting their representation in Congress. They help keep womenís representation in the House stalled at less than 18 percent, and grossly distort fair representation by party and race.

We want to make four arguments. First, House elections today have a fundamental partisan skew against both Democratic and moderate candidates. Second, that partisan skew creates perverse incentives for how Republicans approach policymaking and helps explain the Republican Partyís poor performance in the presidential elections since the 1980s. Third, while partisan gerrymandering is abhorrent, the real problem is one of districting, not redistricting. Establishing independent redistricting commissions is not enough. Fourth, itís easier to fix these problems than much of what ails our politics, as voting alternatives to winner-take-all elections offer a straightforward statutory approach grounded in our own electoral traditions.

Times change, and with those changes should come willingness to ask whether the fundamentals of our democracy still work. Our nationís history has been one of regular evolution of our democratic practices, but our minds have become increasingly closed to change.

Itís time for a new way of looking at U.S. House elections.


http://www.salon.com/2013/01/13/the_house_gop_cant_be_beat_its_worse_than_gerrymandering/

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Reply The House GOP canít be beat: Itís worse than gerrymandering (Original post)
Redfairen Jan 2013 OP
Bjorn Against Jan 2013 #1
dsc Jan 2013 #4
Recursion Jan 2013 #5
leftieNanner Jan 2013 #2
ThoughtCriminal Jan 2013 #3

Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 03:27 PM

1. The part about partisans dominating both sides is false

It is true that partisans dominate the Republican side, but the Democrats have certainly not pushed out the "center" as this article suggests. Progressives like me are continually frustrated in fact by how much power the Blue Dogs and "New Democrats" have in the party, the progressives do not have nearly the influence on the party leadership that the more conservative Democrats seem to have.

I agree with parts of this article, but I can't look past the false equivilance and pretend that the Blue Dogs don't really exist.

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Response to Bjorn Against (Reply #1)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 08:26 PM

4. In the House it is pretty much true

there are a few exceptions but not many. Both caucuses are much more cohesive than they were in the 1990's.

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Response to Bjorn Against (Reply #1)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 11:43 AM

5. The GOP purged their own moderates, and then they purged ours.

For the most part our moderates didn't lose in primaries, but in general elections to Republican candidates (which is why the frequent claims around here that being more liberal would have helped them leave some of us scratching our heads). But either way, there aren't that many blue dogs left.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 06:19 PM

2. I didn't get it at first,

Needed to read the complete Salon article. The point is about single representative districts being the problem - and multiple representative "super" districts being the solution. Don't see how we'll get it through Congress, though. It is upsetting that the Dems won the majority of votes in all the House races, but the Repubs held on to the majority.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 07:10 PM

3. They can and have been

2006.

They have made it harder, but each election from here on out they're going to see battleground districts lost and safe districts become battlegrounds. Much of the work has to be done on the state level.


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