Monday, February 07, 2005

Revitalizing Redistricting

When Arnold Schwarzenegger first announced his proposal to make congressional redistricting in California into a non-partisan affair, I was drowning in irony. Why? Because while I think his idea is one of the most important things we can do for our democracy, unless it happens in both Blue and Red states, all it does is consolidate the gains the GOP has made by refusing to play fair.

Now The New York Times offers a glimmer of hope (link: How Appealing). The article says that the reform movement, if not exactly sweeping the nation, has picked up steam in at least 8 states: California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. By my count, that's 4 red and 4 blue states, a nice mix (note: Pennsylvania voted Democrat in the 2004 election but has a predominantly Republican congressional delegation. Hence, for the purposes of this post, I call it a "red-state," since we're talking about Congress). These would add to Arizona and Iowa, both of which have already adopted non-partisan redistricting methods. I'm particularly proud, of course, to see my own state of Maryland on the list. More importantly, the Maryland effort appears to be genuinely bipartisan--the article quotes from both Democratic and Republican sponsors in the state legislature. Sadly, but unsurprisingly, the state that needs this reform the most--Texas--is not present. But while that would be a major coup d'etat, it will take a lot more momentum to crack the power shell Tom DeLay has put up around his home state.

But that's a minor problem in the scheme of things. I'm thrilled that non-partisanship is starting to get some momentum, and hopefully it will be a sign of more things to come.

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