You probably noticed, the 2018 elections are over, except in states where recounts are proceeding or in bars, diners, and family rooms where pride and disbelief are in conflict.
Now what? If we want to restore integrity and responsibility to government, redistricting is imperative. If we understand the need for fair taxation and meaningful regulation, redistricting is the first big step. If we are to pass the environment to future generations as our greatest asset, redistricting is urgent.
Across this land legislatures are less responsive to the electorate than to the moneyed men and women. Public service has become private enrichment in too many cases because legislators can and do choose their voters.
Congressional district boundaries are redrawn following a census of the population each 10 years. Cities, towns, counties, school corporations, and other governmental units follow suit in most instances. Political power is supposed to follow the people as they move and add to their families.
Every two years we are supposed to have the ability to retain or replace all or part of legislative bodies. But if the district boundaries are drawn to protect political party favorites or punish those with opposing views, the game is rigged.
Stagnation sets in. Experience is valued more highly than expertise. Caution, often based on ignorance, retards progress.
Can we break the shackles of bi-partisan greed? Electoral distortion is not exclusively practiced by Democrats or Republicans. Whoever holds office when the Census numbers are released shapes our politics, our policies and our priorities for one or more decades.
On this past election day, 999,000 Hoosiers voted for the nine Democrats running for Congress while 1,247,000 selected the Republican candidates. The outcome: seven Republicans and two Democrats will represent us in the next Congress.
That’s 78 percent of our congressional delegation will hold office with 55.3 percent of the vote. Conversely, 44.3 percent of voters secured just two congressional offices. (Another 0.4 percent of the votes went to other candidates.) Many people will see this imbalance as a serious denial of adequate representation for a million Hoosiers.
Of the nine seats, the 1st District gave Democrat Visclosky 65.1 percent of the vote. Republican Walorski, next door in the 2nd district, won with a mere 54.8 percent. The median victor in the state scored 65.1 percent while the median loser garnered 35.6 percent of the vote. The median spread: 28.5 percent.
We could move to proportional representation where, if the Republicans get 55 percent of the vote, they are entitled to five of Indiana’s nine representatives and the Democrats get the other four seats in Congress. That’s a much bigger change than drawing district boundaries without thought of past voting patterns.
Non-partisan commissions are the answer several states have chosen. But would the men and women ensconced in the Indiana General Assembly yield any of their power to steal the voting rights of Hoosiers?