Gerrymandering needs to go – Our View

As the old saying goes, “To the victor belongs the spoils.” This slogan has been used to describe victories, both in war and in politics, for centuries and simply means whoever wins will get much more than a tally in the win column. In war, it meant the winner would get the riches, goods and land of the conquered, while in the political forum it has come to mean redrawn district boundaries in favor of the victor’s political party.

The practice of redrawing the lines of districts occurs every 10 years following the completion of a federal census. Who is it that redraws these districts, you ask? The state legislature with the process being piloted by the legislature’s majority party. Meaning, if Democrats are a majority in the Michigan state legislature, then they will be in charge of redrawing districts if it so happens to be a census year.

These lines are often drawn to benefit – you guessed it – the majority party. This is done in an attempt to help members of the party keep or win seats in the local or federal government. This process is called gerrymandering and, unfortunately, has been a common feature of American politics since the 19th century.

Although some states have taken measures to prevent gerrymandering by forcing bipartisan committees or neutral groups to draw the new lines, Michigan remains a state where gerrymandering runs rampant. Michigan is currently running under districts drawn by a Republican majority legislature in 2011. During the redistricting process Republicans strategically carved up the state to draw districts in such a manner that areas known to be Democratic strongholds were split and lumped in with conservative-voting areas.

Basically, that means that both major political parties have decided that they’d rather redraw the lines around those voters than persuade them to change their vote. I have to give both Republicans and Dems credit though – they do think pretty far outside the box.

For example, Lansing and East Lansing of Ingram County, the location of Michigan State University and a surplus of often left-leaning college students, have been split into three different congressional districts. So, in the 2016 presidential election Ingham County was painted blue in support of Hillary Clinton who won the county by a landslide. While, during that same election year, the three districts that the Lansing area is included in all went red for Republican representatives. The liberals of Ingham County were split up and grouped with a large number of historically conservative voters.

It’s upsetting to know that democracy is being upset and overthrown at even the most local of elections. Both Republicans and Democrats are guilty of doing this and reaping the rewards, otherwise known as seats in the Michigan and House of Representatives or Congress. The only answer seems to be following in some other states’ footsteps and ordering a bipartisan committee to draw the lines or hire an outside source – with the money Michigan doesn’t have – to complete the redistricting. Regardless, it’s time the beating around the bush comes to an end and districts are drawn up fairly.

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