The root of divisiveness in our politics

op-edMy latest op-ed, title above, appeared in Wednesday’s Virginian-Pilot. The root is, I believe, redistricting, with the latest manifestation of this being a bill introduced in the Virginia legislature by Sen. Bill Carrico. It is quickly becoming fodder for columns across the internet and on television. The bill, if it became law, would allocate our electoral votes by Congressional District, instead of winner-take-all.

In Virginia, that would have meant that Mitt Romney would have received 9 of Virginia’s 13 electoral votes, despite losing Virginia by four points. The results nationwide are equally as bad:

Now one can argue that this isn’t exactly true because the campaigns would have done things differently in the face of such a difference. But I have no doubt that this is the motivation behind the move, because Virginia isn’t the only state to have such legislation offered. Winning at all costs – democracy be damned – is the way things are done these days.

And the root of that is redistricting.

Those who have followed this blog know that I am adamantly opposed to partisan redistricting. It removes from voters the decision-making. At its core is the ability of electeds to choose their own voters, rather than the other way around. Playing it out, though, is why we can’t get anything done, particularly in Washington.

No congressman who is elected from an R+5 district is going to stick his neck out and compromise, because that’s not what he’s hearing he should do from his hand-picked constituents. Further, even if he does, he’s likely to elicit a challenge from the right in the next election. (Democrats have less of a problem here – with rare exceptions, challenges from the left don’t occur.)

The voters have ignored the state contests, allowing legislatures across the country to become more and more controlled by one party. And they mostly ignored last year’s redistricting efforts. (And, of course, the Obama Justice Department didn’t do much to help.) That’s why Democratic congressional candidates received a majority of the votes cast while not gaining the majority in that body.

If the talking heads on TV spent half as much time informing as they do pontificating, we might actually end up with a more informed electorate. The electeds sure aren’t going to do it.

On its effects alone, Carrico’s bill is a bad idea. But, as a Republican friend told me yesterday, the bill is bad for another reason: it violates “the founders’ vision that the states choose our president, not voters at large and not districts.”

This bill needs to be defeated.

My column appears in The Virginian-Pilot on Wednesdays (unless something comes up, in which case it’s Thursdays). You can see the columns as they are published here, or navigate to them from the homepage by clicking on Opinion and then choosing my name at the bottom of the dropdown list. You can also see the columns by liking my Facebook page. Although my column appears weekly, I am not and have never been an employee of The Virginian-Pilot.


3 thoughts on “The root of divisiveness in our politics

  1. > the bill is bad for another reason: it violates “the founders’ vision that the states
    > choose our president, not voters at large and not districts.”

    Our current system violates that principle just as much. The electors can be chosen in any manner the legislature chooses. So just have the legislature appoint the electors.

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