Saturday, August 13, 2005


Jeremy over at Charging RINO has a worthwhile update on redistricting reform efforts taking place around the country. He's done a good job on keeping people informed and since redistricting is one way we can end some of the bitter partisianship taking place in national politics these days, it's an issue all centrists should take part of.

Jeremy focuses on efforts taking place in Ohio. A group called Reform Ohio Now is calling for changes in the Buckeye State's election system. Jeremy does a good job of explaining their proposals as well as his criticisms of which I agree. What is interesting to me is that makeup of this group. Reform Ohio Now bills itself as a non-partisan group. Yet, a look at the various groups that support this effort and you notice that the majority of them tend to be on the political left. I see no centrist or even conservative groups listed or even groups that are truly non-partisan, like the League of Women Voters. Throw in the fact that as Jeremy reports, that they believe the redistricting effort should have some kind of "statewide partisan balance" and you wonder how beneficient this gesture is.

I don't have a problem with left leaning organizations taking part. In fact, I'm glad they are there. What concerns me is that on an issue so important as this, that affects everyone, I would think you would want to make sure that this is truly a bi or multi partisan effort. Surely there have to be centrists in Ohio who find this an important issue. I have no idea if this is a really just an attempt to get more Democrats elected in Ohio or if this a serious attempt towards real change in the way we elect or representatives. But from my viewpoint it appears to be a partisan attempt dressed up in non partisan garb and because of that whomever is running RON's pr needs to do some damage control pronto.

I support changing the way we reaaportion our districts. For far too long, the people in Washington has been able to choose the voters instead of the other way around. (Witness Tom Delay's brutal power grab last year.) The parties have been good at creating safe districts that produce candidates who don't believe they ever have to compromise. This practice has effectively destroyed the pragmatic center of both parties.

But change has to come from people who are willing to put their nation above party. Maybe RON is doing that, but until they get support from a larger field, I have my doubts.

At least RON is a real group. My own party has some great examples of "bi-partisan groups" that are nothing more than front groups for the GOP. Both John Cole and Joe Gandleman have the skinny.


At 3:05 PM, Blogger SherAn said...

You're correct that the Ohio group is comprised of Dems and left-leaning groups, but not for lack of trying to reach across the aisle. It is truly a nonpartisan issue, or at least should be approached that way by both sides. The problem in Ohio is that the GOP has controlled the politics in the state for, what, about thirty years, and they are NOT inclined to change the method for redistricting that could in any way dilute their powerbase. The more noncompetitive the districts, the happier they are. They are fighting tooth and nail against Reform Ohio Now. But the reason that Reform Ohio Now's initiative will be placed on the ballot is because over 550,000 Ohioans are tired of the corruption, and the only way to get the crooks out of power is to change the makeup of the districts. Could any reasonable individual for one second believe that if the Republicans in power in Columbus and D.C. were serving their Ohio constituents as they deserve to be served Reform Ohio Now could have signed up over 200,000 voters more than they needed to get the initiative on the ballot? What their success tells me is that the voters in Ohio are fed up and refuse to sit back any longer while more corrupted politicians rape and pillage the state's treasury.

It is a nationwide movement. It will eventually affect both Dem and GOP districts so that Republican voters in Dem-locked districts will have a chance to elect Republicans and vice versa. That doesn't bother me one bit, even though I am a Green. We absolutely need both progressives and conservatives to make our government work at all levels; the evidence is plainly in front of our faces as to what happens when one ideology controls all branches of government. We get an agenda that is heavily weighted toward corporate interests at the expense of working men and women and families. We get pork-heavy transportation and energy bills instead of affordable healthcare and drugs or good environmental stewardship. We get a morally bankrupt bankruptcy bill that waives credit card interest cellings (in the fine print) and disallows exemptions to those who have catastrophic healthcare expenses or lose their jobs to outsourcing.

And I could go on and on, but the point I'm making is if the Republicans don't want to join the Reform Ohio Now coalition, then redistricting reform will necessarily have to proceed without them, and they may find themselves in an untenable situation similar to that of the Iraqi Sunnis. They boycotted the "election," and it did them a whole lot of good, right? That last was a rather facetious rhetorical question, but it points out the utter absurdity of the Republicans in Ohio fighting constructive reform. I suspect their recalcitrance will come back and bite them on the ass.

At 9:27 AM, Blogger Shay said...

Sounds like just an attempt to get more Democrats (and not moderate Democrats either) elected in Ohio. Sounds like a front group for the Democratic Party, like the GOP front groups that you discuss in your piece.

And redistricting reform advocates will bounce up against a huge barrier: majority-minority districts. White Democrats are pushing this effort, but it is not in the interests of most black and Latino districts (and of course, white Republican districts). Safe districts is what has produced the number of black and Latino districts that we now see. I favor some reform - as it would help undermine liberal hegemony in black districts and get more black centrists in office - but have yet to read how redistricting advocates plan to reconcile certain Voting Rights Act provisions with their proposal.

At 2:16 PM, Blogger Brian said...

Smaller parties, like the Greens, have been very active and vocal in electoral reform. Especially since the current rigged systems hurt them the most. However, attempts by smaller parties to open up the systems have been resisted precisely because Democrats and Republicans don't want to give up their market share. Reform isn't in their self-interest. The only way it can be made so is if disaffected, like-minded Democrats and Republicans conspicuously support and vote for reformist smaller party candidates running against status quo Democrats and Republicans. And if worse comes to worse, leaving the major party for the smaller party. If one continues to vote for anti-reform Democrat and Republican candidates, one is complicit with preserving the rigged status quo.

At 2:17 PM, Blogger Brian said...

This makes reform in the self-interest of one or both of the major parties.


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