Gerrymandering vs. The People


Proper democratic discourse in the US has been watered down to effectively strengthen elite groups in their pursuit of power and wealth. These groups take form in two dominant political parties, the Democrats and Republicans. In their endless race for hegemony, their true purpose is forgotten. These parties should not exist to retain power for their own personal benefit, but to represent the American Citizen. Americans need political, ethical, and financial representation that can be counted on to act in their vested interests.

 Today politicians are far more concerned with retaining their respective parties’ power than operating an administration that values the life and wellbeing of their constituents. They hire strategists that use borderline un-constitutional methods to consolidate votes more effectively. In 2018 Common Cause, a watchdog group, argued that Republicans in North Carolina drew political maps to keep their power in legislative districts. The practice is called gerrymandering, where parties will draw boundaries within districts to ensure as many seats as possible are won by the parties candidates.This equates to an unfair advantage given to one party over the other. It also takes voting power from the people, their right to fairly choose representation is skewed when politicians draw maps to alter election outcomes. 

In June of 2019 the Supreme Court ruled that the federal courts are helpless to hear cases against partisan gerrymandering. It’s concerning that the federal government refuses to put an end to a tactic that infringes on true democracy. They would rather task the challenge to the state level. Fortunately, a handful of states have taken varying levels of action. For example, in Pennsylvania the Supreme Court successfully overruled Republican drawn lines. But not every state is fighting against unconstitutional practices employed by influence hungry representatives. It’s our responsibility as citizens to urge politicians to choose democracy and outlaw practices that hurt our fair representation.

While the members of the Senate and House of Representatives earn $174,000 per year, the average American takes home roughly $47,000. So can we really expect our politicians to give up their lavish lives to pursue the betterment of the populace? They would rather keep their power than relinquish it to work towards a democratic good. It could go without saying that it’s hard to put trust in the government when they allow practices like gerrymandering to continue legally.

 It’s an issue that most Americans are blissfully unaware of. In fact, a shockingly large majority of U.S. citizens are extremely uneducated about how our political system works. A recent poll shows that 35% of Americans can not name a single branch of government and only 36% know all three branches correctly. It can be assumed that without this incredibly basic understanding of government there is a high probability that the majority of Americans couldn’t tell you what gerrymandering even is. The education system does an excellent job of keeping people uninformed about basic politics. Then again, it’s much easier to keep control and power when the people you control don’t understand how to effectively fight back. 

The Citizens United vs. FEC court case in 2010 opened the doors for high corporate involvement in politics. Lobbyists and super PACs were given immeasurably more power to operate in the political hemisphere of society. As a result more money than ever flows through Washington. Sadly financial and authoritative incentive propels the ambition of our leaders. Some successful members stray from temptation with the people’s representation at heart. But, the majority are polarized from that ideology. This was made clear when the Supreme Court failed to fight gerrymandering practices. Americans need representatives that don’t pander over their purpose; to stand in solidarity with and protect the interests of their citizens.

Sources

  1. https://www.commoncause.org/our-work/gerrymandering-and-representation/gerrymandering-redistricting/
  2. https://www.britannica.com/topic/gerrymandering
  3. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/27/us/politics/supreme-court-gerrymandering.html
  4. https://www.inquirer.com/politics/pennsylvania/supreme-court-gerrymandering-decisions-affect-pa-20190627.html
  5. https://www.thestreet.com/politics/how-much-do-senators-make-14932708
  6. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/24/how-much-money-americans-earn-at-every-age.html
  7. https://www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/americans-know-surprisingly-little-about-their-government-survey-finds/
  8. https://www.fec.gov/updates/citizens-united-v-fecsupreme-court/

Patrick O’Connor

current events progressive

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