Testimony from tonights redistricting hearing

I have four things to say about redistricting.

1. If you think about what's wrong with Congress -- arrogance, corruption, incivility, and so on -- one root cause is safe districts. And of course a root cause of safe districts is gerrymandering.

2. At every level, I'd like to see compact districts that keep communities together. These districts should be drawn up by neutral bodies containing zero elected officials.

3. The fight against gerrymandering is a "strange bedfellow" kind of issue. In writing an article called Gerrymandering is Bad for the Bay I interviewed someone I often disagree with, the Executive Director of Maryland LCV, and found that I agreed with almost everything she said about redistricting. She said that it makes people less likely to vote, reduces the responsiveness of politicians, and makes it more difficult for *any* kind of community group to get help from elected officials. Republicans should build bridges with Dem-leaning groups like Maryland LCV and fight gerrymandering together.

4. In the fight against gerrymandering many of the "enemy" are on our side of the aisle. Gerrymandering is like chocolate. If you put a chocolate bar in front of a chocaholic he will probably eat it. And if you let a politician of any party choose the districts, he will probably gerrymander. Furthermore, most politicians at every level -- including Republicans -- tend to shrug at the problem of gerrymandering, deny that it is a problem and worst of all claim that there is nothing they can do about it. Here's how the blameshifting works:
  • County Council people say disingenuously "go talk to the Redistricting Commission" .
  • State Legislators say they are hamstrung by federal election laws, and
  • Congressmen say "Don't look at me, the state legislature and governor decide on what my district looks like."
In conclusion, we can't let politicians get away with this kind of misdirection. All elected officials in every party at every level should do two things at minimum. First, talk about gerrymandering in public and acknowledge that it is a huge problem. Second, remove themselves from the redistricting process.

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