How stupid do Representatives think we are?


We’ve received responses from Representatives and they have so far all talked the party line, which is to defend the current gerrymandering. Below is an actual response from one Representative. I’ve not included his name because he didn’t “want his email to fill up”. I’ve added my comments because his claims are false. Read and get angry and remember this in the fall when it comes time to vote.

A Pennsylvania Representative defends Gerrymandering [Comments in bold italics are mine]

Thank you for contacting me about changing the way we redistrict in Pennsylvania.  While I understand that there is a wide-spread perception that the current system is flawed, I have serious doubts that suggested reforms will result in improvements. 

[PA is the second most gerrymandered state. Is the Legislature so bad they can’t improve on that? Using a dartboard to define districts improves on that.]
 
First one of the main objections to the current system seems to be that we have split too many municipalities into more than one Congressional District.  In fact the plan, initially approved by the Pennsylvania Legislature after the 2000 census, had fewer splits but it was challenged in Court and the Court struck it down because Congressional Districts had variations in population in excess of 50 persons.  (To put this in context, please remember Congressional Districts had a target population of over 640,000.)  One of the key elements required of redistricting is to meet the so-called one-man one-vote test designed to make voters in each Congressional District have a same relative representation.  The only way to narrow these very minor disparities in response to the Court’s ruling was to split municipalities. 

[Just look at State house district 172 in the banner or US Congressional district 12 on the left and try to tell me with a straight face this was done to balance population requirements. ]
 
Some would like to see more “competitive” districts” and more incumbents forced to run against each other in newly redrawn districts.  While this would seem to be attractive and promote fair play there is a downside to this as well.  “Competitive” districts are those where various points of view and political philosophies are very closely balanced so that nearly equal numbers of voters are on either side of important issues.  These districts are typically extremely difficult to represent because a member will generally be displeasing half of his constituency no matter what he or she does. 

[Defending the idea of competition being bad is unbelievable! Districts are gerrymandered to achieve the opposite, that is to protect incumbents who can do anything and not worry about losing a vote due to the packing of the districts. HB2420 is explicitly asking that political registration not be considered in making districts.]
 
It is doubtlessly true that these districts will be frequently turned over, reducing the length of incumbency in the Legislature, which is also the result to be expected from forcing incumbents into the same district to compete against one another after redistricting.  High turnover in the Legislature is a mixed blessing as states with term limits have found out.  Experience and institutional memory are a beneficial element and those legislatures that have a mix of newly elected and longer serving members are more able to resist over reliance on unelected staff or outside lobbyists when considering complex issues. 

[Who benefits from the so called “institutional memory” except the incumbents? This is explained as if they actually do a good job passing laws, which they don’t. Take the budget work being done currently for example. I am tired of Representatives hiding behind “how difficult the process is” when it comes to law making when it actually is “difficult to get my cut and protect my turf”. ]

In short, I remain unconvinced that with the current restrictions imposed on redistricting by the Court and the potential negative impact of disregarding incumbency and common political outlook that a new system of redistricting will yield a better result for the Commonwealth.

[Of course you do because this system benefits you. You Representatives are unbelievable in how you talk and hide about this issue and all of you deserve to be voted out of office this fall. We finally need citizens electing the representatives, not representatives selecting the citizens!!]

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