Cooper's Gerrymandering Bill Far Too Sensible To Pass In House

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Rep. Jim Cooper
  • Rep. Jim Cooper
Rep. Jim Cooper (D-5th) and Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) are proposing a bill aimed at ending the hyper-partisan redistricting process known as gerrymandering, where congressional districts are redrawn by the state legislature in tortuous, Rorschach-like shapes found only in the animal kingdom.

This is done for a number of reasons: To exclude a potential rival, to include a wealthy contributor, or just plain distilling a district to its highest proof, the goal being grain-alcohol strength political purity — even if that purity is utter artifice and the districts are unrepresentative of the actual community. You should care because this has the effect of creating extremely partisan districts that then elect extremely partisan representatives and, well, here we are. The House, particularly its Tennessee reps, is a zoo filled with zealots compelled at every turn to demonstrate their zealotry to the zealots back home, or lose the seat.

Instead of giving the state legislature the reins, a bipartisan commission would be formed, whose members can't have recently worked on a campaign or aspire to political office in the next 10 years, the News Sentinel reports. It's not an outlandish proposal. Iowa and California, for example, have similar processes, allowing more public scrutiny.

Cooper's proposal, if passed, would allow the public to see who is redrawing the lines. Light, as he says, "is the best disinfectant." It could take effect this year if passed. If Shuler's bi-partisan commissions get the green light, they wouldn't take effect until 2020. Of course, this all makes way too much sense to pass in the U.S. House of Representatives, a deliberative body now far more hysterical than usual.

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