Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Rigging the System
Via Kos, I agree with this column. It is an important read, even if it is Steve Roberts. The point is this: defeating an incumbent in the House is near impossible, thanks to the redistricting efforts of both parties. It is a true conspiracy, perpetrated by sworn enemies who care more about maintaining what power they have than they do about going out and legitimately making the case against the opposition in a contested setting. I know this is no shock, but it has dangerous repercussions that are getting worse, with renegade House members running about answering to nobody outside the leaders of their own party.
Look at this year's election. Outside of Texas, only three incumbents lost their seats, a re-election rate of 99 percent. (Four Texas Democrats were defeated after being thrown into difficult new districts.) In California, with 53 House members, not a single race was even close.
In Tennessee, for example, no doubt a Republican state; still, Democrats maintain a 5-4 congressional majority. This makes me pleased of course to have more Democrats, but it's hardly democratic. While in power, Democrats stuffed all the Republican areas of the mid-state into one district, the 7th, a district that worms its way from near Memphis, touching the Southern border of the state, and the Westernmost county, all the way to the middle of the state, touching Nashville's Davidson County, and then all the way to the northern border of the state to take in Fort Campbell and its heavily military population. The congresswoman perched atop this safe seat can do whatever she pleases, so long as she has the support of her party leadership. She is not accountable to her constituents in any meaningful way. Luckily, the power is going to her head and she's considering a run for Senate, but absent that we may be stuck with her forever.

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