Friday, January 6, 2017

Breeding grounds for insane politicians

The Stateside program on Michigan Radio recently did an 11 minute segment on gerrymandering in Michigan. It talked to Tom Perkins of Metro Times who reviewed the basics, including Democrats received 18,000 more votes than Republicans for state senate seats, yet the GOP has 57% of those seats. Perkins brought up two more important points:

* Gerrymandering creates “breeding grounds for insane politicians.” He mentions Dave Agema, who has quite a reputation in Michigan for being a vocal racist, and who has gone on to a job in the national GOP.

* Politicians from gerrymandered districts can push through unpopular legislation and it won’t affect their chances of being re-elected. An example is the disastrous emergency manager law for financially struggling cities. Voters repealed it and legislators recreated it in that same lame-duck session.

Perkins says gerrymandering is a “legal form of election theft.”

I had reported that the GOP in North Carolina had severely restricted the powers of the new Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. One new law restricted the governor’s control over the election board. A judge in the state has stayed the law, pending a more thorough review. The judge said the law was unconstitutional because there is a risk to free and fair elections.

Those power-stripping laws bothered Andrew Reynolds, a political science professor at University of North Carolina at chapel Hill. Reynolds had designed a democracy rating system as part of his work in helping 25 countries with issues of democratic design. He applied that rating system to his home state – and it failed. North Carolina is no longer a democracy.

There’s a simple reason why I haven’t been posting as much lately. The political news has been so discouraging I haven’t wanted to read it, much less write about it. So I’ve stopped reading a couple news blogs. And evenings when I would normally write I’ve found other things to do. I will still write about broad ideas, though probably less about daily news.

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