Gerrymandering is obviously an obstacle to getting reasonable representative government. It’s going to take a long time and a lot of work to fix, and the special interests will not go quietly. It can be daunting to even think about getting a rules change, no matter how reasonable the change would be.
But here’s something you can do right now, this minute. The State of Ohio has a Constitutional Modernization Committee underway that is accepting ideas and listening to testimony about practical ways to reform state and Congressional-level redistricting. Based on reports by local press and bloggers the committee is not off to a great start: this could easily turn into a smoke screen for a “bi-partisan” arrangement that just locks the two incumbent parties’ operatives into secure positions.
But the committee does ask for suggestions for the public here. Why don’t you take a minute and tell them that you want some form of “Hands-Off” redistricting. Tell them that you don’t see any reason for politicians to be involved in redistricting at all, and that there are a variety of pragmatic and fair ways to do redistricting these days. Point them to the OPRA YouTube presentation, or Brian Olson’s blog and results.
Hands-off redistricting will become reality when it becomes politically dangerous for politicians to oppose it. Let them know you’re watching, and force them to argue that politician-drawn districts are superior to hands-off approaches. Take a few minutes to make your own case for hands-off redistricting, and I’ll follow the discussion in Ohio in future posts.