Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) made good points in her May 14 Tuesday Opinion essay, “How gerrymandering distorts democracy,” that gerrymandering “breeds partisan legislators, who in turn breed a partisan Congress,” and, “instead of the voters picking their leaders, the leaders pick their voters.”
Gerrymandering is key in explaining why our Congress fails to address and solve our nation’s problems. Compromise and recognition of minority views are required to get meaningful things done but can hurt a politician in primaries back home. No politician wants to be “primaried.” Therefore, when primaries, not general elections, become the deciding factor in getting elected, party rule and partisanship become the guiding force for everything a politician does.
Leverett Saltonstall, who served for 22 years as a senator from Massachusetts, used to say his responsibility in Washington was to vote for what he thought was best for our country up to the point where his community might disagree and not send him back. He could not be elected to the House today in states where gerrymandered maps hold sway. With gerrymandering, the good of our country and our communities is no longer a priority for politicians. Ousting the other party has become Rule No. 1 in Washington.
We must hope that more states will achieve bipartisan map-drawing and the Supreme Court will choose not to review their decisions.
Gordon O.F. Johnson, Alexandria