1. It leads to extremism in both parties:
By planting more and more districts firmly in the camp of one party or the other, the [gerrymandering] process, abetted by computer wizardry and the hard-line leanings of both parties’ primary voters, leads directly to uncompromising, line-in-the-sand politicians.2. It's already really bad in Maryland:
As even a cursory glance at Maryland’s current congressional map illustrates, the state’s district lines are so tortuously drawn as to be almost comical.3. Gov. O'Malley's redistricting committee is all about window dressing:
Fashioned by Democrats in 2001 after the last census, the map pays little heed to counties and communities and dilutes Republican votes where possible by dispersing them among districts. Montgomery and Prince George’s counties as well as the city of Baltimore are each split among three districts . . . . The 2nd Congressional District — curlicue territories strung together by impossibly delicate tendrils of land — is a crazy-quilt confection drawn for the express purpose of ousting the incumbent at the time
A redistricting committee appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, is crisscrossing the state gathering the views of citizens. The panel’s five members include just one Republican, but in any event it is little more than a dog and pony show.4. Few people are optimistic that we'll get a better result this time around:
And no one should be surprised when the district lines end up even more crooked and cockeyed than they are now, nor when elections become even less competitive than they already are.5. Other states are starting to fix things:
There is a better way of doing things. About a dozen states have established nonpartisan or bipartisan commissions to draw electoral maps, and studies suggest that elections have become more competitive in those states.6. Fixing gerrymandering is beneficial in ways that regular citizens of both parties support:
Competitive districts tend to favor more moderate candidates, at the expense of ideologues of all stripes. That alone would be an important step in the direction of compromise and a workable political system.Bottom line: things are a mess here in Maryland, but there's no reason why we can't start start fixing the redistricting process. If other states can do it, we can too.