Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gerry-meandering

Now that the political season is over, I will reveal something about an earlier post here. The figures of “Hal” and “Stan” respectively refer to Alan Grayson and Daniel Webster. The latter did indeed win the race quite handily. But that’s not what this post is about, per se. It’s about this:

I didn’t vote in their race. But my neighbor down the street did. So did the guy who lives in the house on the next street. So did scores of people whose houses I pass every day.

Did I forget to vote or refuse to vote? No.

I’m just not in the Grayson-Webster (GW) congressional district. I’m in someone else’s. (I won’t say whose, but let’s just say that they are pork-grabbers that give Robert Byrd a run for his money, which means there’s little hope of them being dis-elected any time soon. I'll just refer to this politician as Porky.)

Yet, I just said that all these neighbors voted in the GW race – how’s that?

Well, if you look at a political map of my neighborhood, what you see is that the line between the two districts enters the development right down the middle of the main entrance road. So people on one side of this road got to vote for Grayson or Webster. On the other side, where I am, I got a choice between Porky and someone who wouldn’t have won even if Porky had been sporting Nazi regalia throughout the election campaign.

The district line continues smack down the middle of this road, then takes a 90 degree turn down that road as it curves, where it continues south for a bit, through an empty space between two houses, and then on into the void. That means that on my own street, the guy about 10 houses down could vote for Webster or Grayson. The guy 9 houses down or so, like me, had a choice between a pig and a sacrificial lamb.

I’ve heard of gerrymandering. But this is ridiculous – this is gerrymeandering.

Porky’s district continues in this vein just about wherever it goes. I’m sure readers have similar stories in their own areas, with districts that favor either Republicans or Democrats. It's hardly limited to just one of the parties.

Voters here in Florida this past election day also passed an amendment that would redraw districts and make use of things like already-existing city and county boundaries. I’m rather glad of this myself, though I am sure opponents (like Porky, who immediately filed a lawsuit to reverse it) will have some sort of bizarre logic to offer as to why it’s a Bad Thing. But for me, this isn’t just a political principle, it’s a spiritual one.

Gerrymeandering is frequently justified – by those on all sides of the equation – in that it allegedly helps people with the same interests get themselves represented. That it does. But it thereby encourages fractious disunity at the expense of coming to a solution for the common good.

Can you imagine the Body of Christ operating on such bizarre principles as this, dividing itself down such microcosmic lines, simply for the sake of individual desires and at the expense of the whole?

Um…wait a second. That is one of our problems these days, isn’t it?

Update, August 2014: And in fact, a judge just struck down those gerry-meandered districts as unconstitutional, giving legislators just 2 weeks to fix them. I love it!! 

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