Protective power: how redistribution weakens democracy
It’s not just Texas. And it’s not just Republicans. Representative democracy is underserved by a national trend that is producing a decline in the number of competitive congressional races across the country.
The redistribution has now been completed by almost half of the states that have more than one seat in the House of Representatives, and the way it unfolds, it will exacerbate the political divide. The process prescribed in the United States Constitution takes place every ten years after the Census Bureau has certified the number of residents in each state. When population displacement occurs, it is the responsibility of the competent authority in each state – in Texas, that is, the legislature – to redraw the boundaries to ensure that all congressional districts contain roughly the same number of inhabitants.
It has always been, and probably always will be, that redistribution gives the ruling party an advantage. Gerrymandering is not new to politics. But it is now such a precise science, and so focused on preserving and strengthening the power of the dominant party, that it serves to further radicalize our representative institutions.
A recent the Wall Street newspaper The analysis revealed that “state legislators…
the Newspaper cites Texas as the state with “the biggest change,” noting that the new congressional districts are reducing the number of competitive districts from 11 to just one. Twenty-one districts held by the GOP are considered “safe,” according to the Newspaper, which is up 11 under the old charts.
We criticized these maps for ignoring the changing demographics of the state.
But Texas Republicans are hardly alone here. Work to reduce the number of competitive ridings is shared by Democrats and Republicans across the United States
This is why several states have adopted redistribution processes aimed at reducing the power of the parties in the process. Results have been mixed and good results have not always followed good intentions.
Competitive constituencies force politicians on both sides to recognize the importance of voters who don’t see things the way they see them. We believe that over time it benefits democracy. The Founders feared the tyranny of the mainstream as much as they worried about the monarchs.
In states where politicians use redistribution to reduce the voice of the powerless party to a whimper, they undermine the intention of true democratic representation.
We must fear it, as the Founders did. And we should consider ways to ensure that our elections offer voters a representative choice.