Can't win the game? Why not change the rules? GOP trying to rig the system.

By Michael Glantz on January 28, 2013

Map of the 2012 election results by congressional district.

Unless you’ve been living underneath a very big and soundproof rock for the last year, you’ve probably heard that Barack Obama won reelection. You might have also heard that Democrats retained a majority in the Senate and Republicans retained a majority in the House. So, after a pretty rough four years in Washington D.C. why is it that nothing changed? This article may be able to shed some light on that fact. Titled the REDMAP 2012 summary report, the article explains how a Republican strategy of targeting state legislative races in 2010 led to their continued majority in the House of Representatives this past election. Essentially, Republicans targeted states projected to gain or lose a congressional seat so that they could redraw the district lines to ensure they would keep a majority until the next time the districts were redrawn. This aggressively partisan redistricting is also known as Gerrymandering.

Did this naked power grab have any impact?

Yes. It had a pretty significant impact. Just this last election cycle when all of the votes were finally counted it was discovered that Americans had cast 1.1 million votes more in favor of democratic representatives yet the Republicans retained a 33 seat majority in the House. Gerrymandering isn’t a new thing, however. Every time there is a census (every 10 years) whichever party controls the state legislatures tips the balance of power in their favor. Not to editorialize too much but I was shocked when I found out that this is just seen as a common practice. Every time it happens the party that gets taken advantage of complains a little and then resolves to get back at them the next time they’re the ones drawing the districts.

This time is different, though. This time the GOP doesn’t want to stop with the House. They’ve set their sights on the 2016 presidential race and they think they can fix the system in such a way it would be nearly impossible for a Democratic presidential candidate to win. They want to change the way that electoral college votes are allocated so that, rather than a winner-take-all allocation based on the popular vote, electoral votes would be cast by congressional district. On its face it doesn’t sound like such a horrible idea. Assuming the districts are representative, it would take the electoral college system closer to a strictly popular vote presidency.  The problem is the Republicans in the states considering this change just redrew the district lines to grossly favor themselves. In Virginia, one of the more shameless examples of this, had this policy been in place for the last election, Obama would have still won the state’s popular vote by nearly 5% but Romney would have gotten 9 of the 13 electoral votes. If this policy had been nation-wide last election, Obama would have still gotten 4% more of the popular vote and lost the presidency.

 

Redistricting to give your party an advantage shouldn’t be allowed to happen at all. Taking that advantage to the highest office in the land is reprehensible. I think all this is a great argument for a nationwide federal election commission that could handle redistricting and voting procedures free from party affiliation because apparently neither party can be trusted with the responsibility.

 

Luckily, people are pretty mad about this proposed change so it probably won’t go through.

I am a sophomore at the University of Denver studying Film and English. I am deeply interested in Politics and the role of the U.S. in the world at large.

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