IT DOESN’T take a rocket scientist to know that there is something rotten in politics these days.
So, it is not really a surprise that redistricting is once again front and center as an issue in not only this state, but in many others across the country.
Listening to politicians discuss it makes it sound much more complicated than it is.
Which, by the way, is also not a surprise. Nothing makes an issue harder to understand than listening to political parties argue about it.
So here is a brief rundown on the issue — explained for those of us who are not policy wonks. (That is a person who lives to study the complicated legalese that combines to form the laws we read about.)
Political parties who are in power set districts for one simple reason — to be able to claim enough seats to be in the majority.
That’s it, pure and simple.
When you look at the district lines, you see why a lot of people say there is a problem. They have shapes that defy logic and are configured so that in some cases one legislator will cover a tiny portion of one county and two or even three others.
If you think about it, it makes no sense. How can a politician, or anyone for that matter, responsibly or effectively represent pieces of multiple counties?
Some of the districts are also, quite literally, huge. We don’t have to tell you how hard that makes representing your constituents.
And there is a darker side to redistricting, too. There are some who claim that redistricted districts are designed to remove the voice of minorities and other under-represented or ignored constituencies, or to change the political majority in a community.
They say the district lines are racially biased. And it looks like that is exactly what the court thinks in Pennsylvania’s case.
Maybe. But we go back to our original analysis.
This is about power, pure and simple. So to honestly examine redistricting, you have to look at both parties’ records.
And in case you have not already figured it out, both parties use redistricting to their advantage — and they do it everywhere. That is why there are so many states arguing over this issue.
So the battle in Harrisburg will continue over this latest challenge. And it should. It is time to stop this manipulation.
But once it is done and the smoke has cleared, we need to insist that the rules are enforced strictly no matter which party is in power.
Once the fair district lines are determined, they should stay that way — and both parties should be required to live with the result. Hopefully someone will put what’s right before politics and we can get lines that create districts that can be adequately represented and where the people have a voice — all people.
Because, honestly, there are no innocents here.
Political bickering, manipulation and entrenched politicians are the reality of this new world.
If we want to change it, we have to put our foot down as voters and citizens.
And we have to look hard at who is representing us — do they listen, do they act, do they live the principles they preach and the laws they pass for us to follow?
We have seen that many of them don’t.
Perhaps we need new blood. Perhaps politics should not be a career. Perhaps we need to keep a closer eye and to “throw the bums out” when we find them.
Fixing how we pick them might be the best way to unseat those who don’t get it — and to get a few more to listen a little more closely to what we, the people, want.
Maybe this is the first step — if politics gets out of the way.