eliminating gerrymandering

The Article

David W. Miller, a faculty member in the Department of History at Carnegie Mellon University, wrote a wonderfully thoughtful article on 02/17/2013 describing a potential solution to eliminating the political bias inherent in district-drawing.

Miller writes tactfully when he first introduces the issue of gerrymandering.  He neglects to name names (though anyone who is aware of our political present knows instantly of whom he writes) because such a simple device bespeaks of the honesty of his suggested solution.  He understands that the redrawing of districts is, due to time, necessary.  He also understands that the growth and decay of populations adhering to our dominant political parties will ensure periods of greater rule for each—rule that will include oversight of the redrawing of districts.  So, if the examples he provided put the GOP in a bad light, it is only because they are the most recent party guilty of biased redrawing; the same should be evident in times when Democrats had greater rule; the same could be evident in the future for both parties.

Following this sensitive presentation of evidence, Miller shares the reason of why he’s writing—the unique qualification of having compiled a software database of census and federal elections data for use in his courses.  It would seem that if such a program could be used to witness the power-dynamics of the past, a similar program could be crafted to prevent unnecessary (and detrimental) power-dynamics of the future.  Again, Miller is no champion of finger-pointing; he is merely an intelligent person who stumbled upon a brilliant idea worth sharing.

And so he shares, suggesting that we ought to, with the assistance of technology, eliminate the threat of human bias by implementing a computer program for the sensible redrawing of districts.

The Content

I share this article with you because it is exemplary of what good news should do.  It presents an issue without undue accusation, it describes the origin of its own generation, and it concludes with an appeal that suggests a just solution.  Miller’s thinking mirrors that of a few writers I greatly admire, and whom I hope you might likewise find worth reading: Steven Johnson,  Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, and Malcolm Gladwell.

I also share this article because of its relevance to the issues that I normally write about—issues that are propagated by (and which have solutions inhibited by) politics.  When gerrymandering occurs, our political power as voters is manipulated—waxed and waned—according to the machinations of politicians.  In this way, politicians are evidenced as actors in an exercise of self-preservation, a sentiment captured by the article’s accompanying artwork, produced by artist Stacy Innerst, that nods respectfully to M.C. Escher’s Drawing Hands.

what do you think?

Thank you for reading.
Thank you for writing.

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