Saturday, October 24, 2015

But we didn't (Kill the Gerrymander)

In July 2013, I wrote a post (a cri de coeur, really) about how gerrymandering was messing up Congress.  Did you people listen?  Did you kill the beast?  Nope.  And now the children of your apathy sit on a "select committee" of politically inbred morons, providing, with no small irony, "deliverance" to the former Secretary of State.

Although Trey Gowdy looks a bit like that kid with the banjo, the real freak on the committee is the humorless scold from Alabama, Martha Roby.  She sees nothing funny in her ridiculous questions.  And she is right.  There is nothing funny about how ridiculous her questions are.


Not the that reps from flyover country did any better.  But to this yankee, a stupid southerner just sets off certain images that the bullies from the north do not.  I have no doubt that Messrs. Pompeo and Roskam are dunces, Jimmy Jordan is an illiterate bully, and our Ms. Brooks was probably as good a prosecutor as she is bad a Congresswoman.  All of them are shameful products of safely drawn districts.  Here's Ms. Rep. Roby's:

Yep, all of the suburbs of Montgomery, with a hole where the Democrats live.  And Rep. Westmoreland?  Why he's from a district that would be pretty close to square, if the northeast corner of that square didn't happen to be in the City of Atlanta:

I'm not sure who lives in the missing bite in the south of the district.  But I doubt they were excised to create diversity.  

While I am not alone in my condemnation of gerrymandering, there are arguments to be made, not in its defense, but against its importance.  A piece by John Sides in the Washington Post takes that, er side. The principal argument appears to be that members vote their party's views and not their constituents' views.  I don't find the methodology convincing, as it seems to ignore the effect that gerrymandered electees have on their party's positions in Congress when they get there.  Party discipline after the caucus meets does not indicate how far to one pole or the other the party was pulled by its wackiest members.

Anyway, this dysfunctional party will give us a Democrat president by running a bozo and embarrassing itself in Congress.  I am of two minds about this, because, all else equal, I prefer what used to be the Republican world view.  But all else is rarely equal, and it isn't now.  Most notably, I'm a Keynesian, and the GOP is too dumb to understand why a government is not a household.  To the extent I believe that economics is the area where politics can have the most impact, I'm a liberal these days.  If the economy recovers, I'll probably become a conservative again.  But for now, I'm a small-d democrat and a small-d republican, and I'm in distressed on both scores that the gerrymander's children are running amok.