The Supreme Court will be deciding cases on political gerrymandering soon. Now I don't claim to be an expert on constitutional law, but I have looked at the practical results of this unfortunate political ploy. And the simple fact is that while the Court may rule it constitutional, it most certainly is undemocratic.
In order for a government to work well, there has to be a certain amount of accountability. In a democracy accountability comes through elections, contested elections. When two political parties compete with one another on a fairly equal footing, that makes BOTH of them responsive to the will of the people. But gerrymandering stifles the will of the people because it kills competition.
The cost of running for political office has become spectacularly expensive. And nobody wants to spend tons of dollars on an election that's a foregone conclusion, but that's what gerrymandering is all about. In effect, it's an incumbent re-election insurance policy, and that's what kills competition and that's what kills accountability. In the end, it will eventually kill democracy itself.
I know. That sounds like alarmist thinking, and liberals are nothing if not alarmists. All you have to do is listen to one talk about the environment to see that. Nevertheless, it's true. Oh, we may go through the motions of having elections, that won't change. But Mr. Putin's Russia is having a Presidential election this year too. But the system is rigged. His biggest rival was framed on criminal charges and is ineligible to run against him. The only competition is a hired stooge who has absolutely NO chance of winning. So if merely holding elections constitutes democracy, the Russian Federation is a democratic country. But is that the kind of democracy we want for OUR country? I sincerely hope not!
We have to understand that democracy is a fragile thing. It has to be nurtured and protected if it's to survive. Anything that places impediments that keeps people away from the polls will begin to kill democracy by degrees. Alarmist? Just MY opinion? Well here are some hard cold facts for you to wrestle with. There are 435 seats in the House of Representatives. In the 2016 election cycle, there were 135 uncontested elections for a seat in the House. Think about that for a minute. 31% of all Americans were deprived of the opportunity to vote in a contested election for their representative in Congress. Nearly one-third of the country had to accept whoever the powers-that-be TOLD them would be their representative in Congress.
We know that the Russians interfered in our political process. They tried to tip the election in favor of one particular candidate for President. That's bad enough. But it's something we should expect from an implacable foe, a determined enemy of American ideals and principles. But when one political party or other takes steps to discourage Americans from voting, THAT will undercut the very foundations of American democracy. Gerrymandering is just one example of the undermining of democracy, there are others. But whatever they are, EVERY form of voter suppression weakens the foundation of our system of government and ultimately our way of life.
The blood of American heroes was spilled to secure EVERYONE'S right to step into a voting booth and cast a ballot for whomever WE want to run our country. Voter suppression of any kind is an assault against that right. We are at a critical moment in our history. Either we can stick up for democracy and our right to choose who will run things here, or we can simply let the right to choose slip from our fingers. One thing I DO know. Once true democracy dies in a country, it's well nigh impossible to resurrect. Remember that the next time you hear some politician say that voting is a privilege. It's NOT a privilege, it's a right. OUR right!!
Filed under: Politics