Chalk one up to that fearsome creature, the Gerrymander. Yesterday a rare three-judge district court panel rebuked North Carolina Republicans, a turn of events that could impact the presidential election. According to The News Observer –
A federal court panel ruled late Friday that two of North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts were racially gerrymandered and must be redrawn within two weeks, sparking uncertainty about whether the March primary elections can proceed as planned.
An order from a three-judge panel bars elections in North Carolina’s 1st and 12th congressional districts until new maps are approved.
Will Republican presidential hopefuls throttle a fairly reasonable ruling, use the ruling to decry laughable redistricting tactics, or simply alter their schedules and remain silent? It will be interesting to watch. Regardless of what tact any given Republican chooses, the big picture questions surrounding redistricting are still worthy of consideration.
Democrats and Republicans both engage in egregious gerrymandering, however, some observers have pointed out that Republicans seem more prone to gerrymandering than Democrats. Those observers might be right. Or perhaps state level electoral success provided Republicans with additional gerrymandering opportunities. Regardless of the reason, a more rational approach to district-drawing must be found. Computerized redistricting might not be the best plan, but a move towards semi-partisan redistricting panels would certainly bear interesting fruit.
If each state employed an unelected district-drawing panel, fewer extremely conservative or exceptionally liberal candidates would be elected to the House of Representatives. Naturally, harmony in the House would increase, and as a result the frustration of ideologically dissatisfied voters would likely grow. In the mid-term, this dissatisfaction would threaten party cohesion, thereby forcing party elites to reassess their party’s core beliefs.
Maybe voters would even get lucky: party angst might produce stunning reforms. A congressional term limit amendment would certainly be a great start. What electoral reform would you like to see?