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October 14, 2003
The Soviet Republic of Texas (

The Washington Post rails against the latest redistricting plan in Texas, but misses an important point. The current district plan was not implemented by the Texas Legislature but was imposed as a temporary plan by a federal court. Districting is a function of the Legislature and not the courts and it was entirely appropriate for Texas to redistrict, even if it was oustide the census cycle.

That being said, the Post has a point about the results of the plan, and ultra-partisan districting plans in general:

YOU MIGHT THINK America's rigged system of congressional elections couldn't get much worse. Self-serving redistricting schemes nationwide already have left an overwhelming number of seats in the House of Representatives so uncompetitive that election results are practically as preordained as in the old Soviet Union. In the last election, for example, 98 percent of incumbents were reelected, and the average winning candidate got more than 70 percent of the vote. More candidates ran without any major-party opposition than won by a margin of less than 20 percent ... The pernicious effect of partisan redistricting in general is the weakening of the center with the creation of "safe" seats for both parties -- which encourages the election of people considerably to the left or right of the state's political center of gravity.

This is the same problem faced by Californians, and look at what's happened there. The Governator has suggested using a non-partisan panel, appointed at random from a pool of people nominated by legislators of both parties, to come up with a districting plan that respects community boundaries and gives people a true say in elections. If California can successfully implement such a plan, perhaps Texas will consider it as well.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 14, 2003 6:04 AM

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