Doodling

Professor Bainbridge thinks that redistricting outside the census period (every ten years) probably isn’t a good idea.

I’ve actually thought about this for a while and, while at first in agreement, I do now disagree.

I think mid-decade redistricting (MDR) is a self limiting concept. We haven’t really ever experienced it before. We probably won’t again, at least for a good long while.

The MDR came about because of sever partisan gerrymandering in several states and in others because of judicially imposed districts that eithe both parties or the majority party found unacceptable. Some of the current MDR have just been attempts to let legislatures draw their own lines. See e.g. Colorado (where their Supreme Court said MDR is unconstitutional).

In Texas, Democrats gerrymandered the state to such an extent that, though Republicans were in control of every statewide office, they still did not control either chamber of the Texas legislature or the Congressional seats. But, things changed and the Republicans took control of one house and then both houses of the legislature. Yet, the partisan makeup of the congressional delegation was still dominated by Democrats.

The Republicans changed it. The Republicans will probably continue to control the Texas legislature into the next decade, so we probably won’t see MDR for at least another ten to fifteen years there. It is a rare phenomenon.

Now, I wouldn’t like it if the roles were reversed and the Democrats did it. But, that would be their choice. That would be their privilege as the majority party. In particular, it would be their privilege if they overcame the long shot odds of partisan gerrymandering to gain control of a legislature like the Repubicans did in the Georgia State Senate or like the Pennsylvania Democrats will probably do before the decade is out.

The problem here is not MDR, the problem is gerrymandering. That one party can so ruthlessly carve up a state to keep itself in power long after it has fallen out of favor with a majority is wrong. It is wrong when Republicans do it and it is wrong when Democrats do it.

We shouldn’t be worried about MDR that corrects a partisan imbalance. We should be worried about both parties making our democracy stagnant through redistricting. We won’t get new ideas when a party can rest on its gerrymandering laurels. Parties lose competitiveness and fail to generate ideas.

Gerrymandering is just another form of monopoly in the free market system. It should be crushed like Standard Oil.