Monday, November 12, 2012

Geoffrey Stone on Why GOP Won House with Minority of Popular Votes

At Huffington Post, Geoffrey R. Stone explains how the Republicans won the House of Representatives last Tuesday--though more than half a million more votes were cast for Democratic House candidates nationwide than for Republican ones.  And though the Republicans ended up with 55% of House seats, while only 48% of votes nationwide were cast for the Republican presidential candidate Romney.

How did this happen?  Stone notes,

This answer lies in the 2010 election, in which Republicans won control of a substantial majority of state governments. They then used that power to re-draw congressional district lines in such a way as to maximize the Republican outcome in the 2012 House election.

As Stone also observes, the tradition of gerrymandering political boundaries is deeply rooted in American political life, and is hardly a new Republican invention.  But as he also indicates, it's worse now than ever, due to the use of computer models to allow legislators to draw districts in a way that carefully maximizes their partisan advantage.

And as he concludes, partisan gerrymandering is an unhealthy part of our political process which threatens the integrity of democratic governance.  It does so by permitting minority parties to exercise majority rule after they have become minorities.

Enabling a politics of obstruction and blockage at the highest levels of government in which presidents and legislators elected by a majority of the popular vote cannot solve the nation's most pressing problems or move the nation forward, while a minority puts the brake on problem-solving and forward movement, even thought it does not represent the will of the majority . . . .

The graphic: Minnesota's 6th Congressional District, as charted at Wikipedia.  The district, whose boundaries were redraws in 2010 to assure a Republican majority, is represented by Michelle Bachmann, whose home is no longer even in the district after the 2010 redistricting process redrew its boundaries.

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