Friday, September 22, 2006

Watersheds vs. Gerrymandering: Only 25% Approve of Congress, though Gerrymandering Cited as Reducing Ability to Move Them Out

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Slide watersheds in as electoral districts, and you have a whole different (unriggable) ball game--closer to how citizens express their concern.

[For information on the upcoming Chicago talk, click here.]


Below is an interesting article, in how it quickly passes over that the point of the decennial Census is hardly to achieve a gerrymandered district framework which is described below as if it is required. The "reapportionment" is simply a reapportionment. However, since in the current formal institutional arrangements of the United States, "reapportionment" is undertaken entirely by informal parties for informal incumbent gains--without any laws for a nonpartisan reapportionment in ANY state of the United States to check against inbuilt corruption in all this informally managed "reapportionment."

Thus, given the explosive computer savvy and data handling capacities of the past 20 years, reapportionment has been an excuse to tailor one-party districts throughout the United States down to the block level on everything including consumer habits going into the database on how to design the perfect "rigged district." Remember, the danger is more than a rigged vote machine. The danger is that the district in which the vote machines are placed has already been rigged in this demographic sense beforehand, to yield a biased outcome total toward one party, which removes a context in which the voter has a competitive party environment making his or her vote valuable.

In Toward A Bioregional State, one of the suggestions to remove these rigged districts is for permanent watersheds to be the mandated form of electoral districting.

This is for two main goals: the first, to represent the ecological interest of particular areas; the second, it is innately toward a more competitive and "ungerrymanderable" party environment. And as the book indicates, a more competitive party environment would be less tolerant of systemic vote fraud.

Thus a watershed district would force all particular parties to compete for the exact representation of a locality--instead of competing to rig and gerrymander an area. All gerrymandering always gatekeeps against a locality's interests, and foregoes a competitive party environment which is the only environment that makes a vote meaningful or the voter valued.

With watershed districting, the issue of apportionment changes for population can be arranged by the weight of the particular districts vote in Congress instead, across the same stable watershed electoral district. There is a lot more on the logistics and checks and balances motifs of this in Toward A Bioregional State.

For more information on state by state gerrymandering dangers, see the nonprofit elections monitoring and elections analysis agency, Center for Voting and Democracy which writes:

Redistricting Reform Watch 2005

"For years, FairVote has highlighted how our nation's reliance upon winner-take-all elections and single member districts for Congressional elections without national standards has left our voting process open to the abuses of unfair partisan gerrymandering. Insiders for decades have known how powerful redistricting can be for elected officials to protect friends and undermine opponents. It's a blood sport that both parties have exploited, thereby minimizing the role of voters in the political process. By gerrymandering the districts, legislators and their political cronies have used redistricting to choose their voters, before voters have had the opportunity to choose them.

The Re-Redistricting Crisis

"Typically this process has been brutal and unfair, but occurred only once every decade. Then came House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's infamous drive in 2003 to undo his home state of Texas' incumbent-protection gerrymander with a Republican plan adopted over the objections of increasingly desperate Democratic state legislators. The Democrats' flight to neighboring states drew national attention, but it was Texas Republicans' successful unseating of four Democratic House seats through the re-redistricting process that caused party leaders to salivate.

"In Georgia, in the wake of taking control of state government in 2004, Republicans in 2005 redrew the Democratic gerrymander of 2005. They piously defend the proposed lines as more compact, but their primary motivation is clear: two more Republican House seats in 2006."

[Their "summary" there is incredibly partisan! The people who wrote it left out that the Democrats and the Republicans are equally guilty of "on the fly gerrymandering" when it can be used to remove voter choices and a competive party environments. For instance, the "re-redistricting" taken by the Democrats in Maine's legislature was taken solely to remove a competitive party context against a Green Party win there. The Democrats in the Maine legislature attempted to "dissolve" the demographic that provided the Green Party win, by splitting it up immediately across two separate districts. I will talk about this in a future post, though makes clear that we are talking more than simply party gerrymandering. We are dealing with an environmetnal gerrymandering and form of systemic vote fraud to ignore the will or concerns of the voter when they attempt to repress voter input on their three most queried concerns: their health care, their local ecology and pollution effects, and their local economies. Gerrymandering is used by the Democratic and Republican parties to remove pesky concerns of voters who vote against these parties exclusively reliance on unsustainable and polluting corporate state frameworks, so the Democratic and Republican parties increasingly rely on repressive vote fraud and repressive gerrymandering 'on the fly' to keep their incumbents in power, instead of allowing for clean elections, stable representation, and party competition that would come from watershed districts.]

There's more in the book on how various cross watershed frameworks of states work out in practice.

And for more information on their gerrymandering report, read here.


This following article was from the New York Times web version. I have seen a previous poll showing Congressional approval at 18% percent as well.


Only 25% in Poll Approve of the Congress
By ADAM NAGOURNEY and JANET ELDER
September 21, 2006

With barely seven weeks until the midterm elections, Americans have an overwhelmingly negative view of the Republican-controlled Congress, with substantial majorities saying that they disapprove of the job it is doing and that its members do not deserve re-election, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

The disdain for Congress is as intense as it has been since 1994, when Republicans captured 52 seats to end 40 years of Democratic control of the House and retook the Senate as well. It underlines the challenge the Republican Party faces in trying to hold on to power in the face of a surge in anti-incumbent sentiment.

By broad margins, respondents said that members of Congress were too tied to special interests and that they did not understand the needs and problems of average Americans. Two-thirds said Congress had accomplished less than it typically did in a two-year session; most said they could not name a single major piece of legislation that cleared this Congress. Just 25 percent said they approved of the way Congress was doing its job.

But for all the clear dissatisfaction with the 109th Congress, 39 percent of respondents said their own representative deserved re-election, compared with 48 percent who said it was time for someone new.

What is more, it seems highly unlikely Democrats will experience a sweep similar to the one Republicans experienced in 1994. Most analysts judge only about 40 House seats to be in play at the moment, compared with over 100 seats in play at this point 12 years ago, in large part because redistricting has created more safe [uncompetitive, gerrymandered] seats for both parties.

The poll also found that President Bush had not improved his own or his party’s standing through his intense campaign of speeches and events surrounding the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The speeches were at the heart of a Republican strategy to thrust national security to the forefront in the fall elections.

Mr. Bush’s job approval rating was 37 percent in the poll, virtually unchanged from the last Times/CBS News poll, in August. ...

In one striking finding, 77 percent of respondents — including 65 percent of Republicans — said most members of Congress had not done a good enough job to deserve re-election and that it was time to give a new people a chance. That is the highest number of voters saying it is “time for new people” since the fall of 1994.

“You get some people in there, and they’re in there forever,” said Jan Weaver, of Aberdeen, S.D., who described herself as a Republican voter, in a follow-up interview. “They’re so out of touch with reality.”

[However, the artificical choice of the Democrats, that fail to stand for anything either, is troubling most of those polled:]

In the poll, 50 percent said they would support a Democrat in the fall Congressional elections, compared with 35 percent who said they would support a Republican. But the poll found that Democrats continued to struggle to offer a strong case for turning government control over to them; only 38 percent said the Democrats had a clear plan for how they would run the country, compared with 45 percent who said the Republicans had offered a clear plan.

...

The New York Times/CBS News poll began last Friday....The nationwide poll was conducted by telephone Friday through Tuesday. It included 1,131 adults, of whom 1,007 said they were registered to vote, and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

...

The poll also found indications that voters were unusually intrigued by this midterm election: 43 percent said they were more enthusiastic than usual about voting. However, with turnout promising to be a critical factor in many of the closer Senate and House races, there was no sign that either [of the two corrupt Democratic and Republican Parties]...had an edge in terms of voter enthusiasm.

Evidence of the antipathy toward [these two parties]...in particular — and Washington in general — was abundant: 71 percent said they did not trust the government to do what is right.

“If they had new blood, then the people that influence them — the lobbyists — would maybe not be so influential,” said Norma Scranton, a Republican from Thedford, Neb., in a follow-up interview after the poll. “They don’t have our interest at heart because they’re influenced by these lobbyists. If they were new, maybe they would try to please their constituents a little better.”

Lois Thurber, a Republican from Axtell, Neb., said in a follow-up interview: “There’s so much bickering, so much disagreement — they just can’t get together on certain issues.

“They’re kind of more worried about themselves than they are about the country.”

Incumbents and challengers nationwide are trying to accommodate this sour mood. Democrats are [lying and] presenting themselves as a fresh start — “Isn’t it time for a change?” asked an advertisement by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee directed against Senator Jim Talent, Republican of Missouri.

And Republican incumbents are seeking to distance themselves from fellow Republicans in Washington. “I’ve gone against the president and the Republican leadership when I think they are wrong,” Representative Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican locked in a tough re-election battle, said in a television advertisement broadcast this week.

...

Voters said Democrats were more likely to tell the truth than Republicans when discussing the war in Iraq and about the actual threat of terrorism. And 59 percent of respondents said Mr. Bush was hiding something when he talked about how things were going in Iraq; an additional 25 percent said he was mostly lying when talking about the war.

Not that Democrats should draw any solace from that: 71 percent of respondents said Democrats in Congress were hiding something when they talked about how well things were going in Iraq, while 13 percent said they were mostly lying.

Robert Allen, a Democrat from Ventura, Calif., said: “We’re in a stalemate right now. They’re not getting hardly anything done.” He added, “It’s time to elect a whole new bunch so they can do something.”

Megan C. Thee, Marjorie Connelly and Marina Stefan contributed reporting.

[link for the article here]

One of the main points of the bioregional state is that mere informal party change is hardly going to move anyone toward a more competitive democracy or toward sustainabilty. There are innately formal institutional flaws that require additional checks and balances to bring us to a more competitive party environment and a stable environmental representation which can be done simultaneously. Stable watershed districts are just one example mentioned in the bioregional state. It is only one of around 60 additional checks and balances suggested for equal synergestic effects. The Democratic and Republican parties have already abandoned democracy. It is up to the voters to remove these corrupt parties and institute manners to get democracy back and to make sure that creations like the Democratic and Republican parties are unable to gatekeept democracy in the future.

3 Comments:

Blogger AllAbout said...

I've started a thread regarding this post here:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RangeVoting/message/6148

I don't think that watersheds are good primitives for creating districts because:
* there is no correlation between the number of watersheds and the number of districts that need to exist so there is still the issue of choosing which watersheds correspond to districts with approximately
equal populations
* watersheds are geological features that are difficult to gerrymander but it is still possible to do so


I also have talked a fair bit about gerrymandering on my blog:


http://allaboutvoting.com/category/gerrymandering/

9/25/2007 4:23 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Hi "AllAbout"

You said:

"There is no correlation between the number of watersheds and the number of districts that need to exist..."

"Need to exist" is a subjective phrase of your own I'm afraid. Your idea doesn't deal with gerrymandering, because you allow human politics to create and endlessly redraw districts. You institutionalize gerrymandering and corruption in this way. Moreover, you don't solve anything related to sustainability.

"so there is still the issue of choosing which watersheds correspond to districts with approximately equal populations...

In the book, I've already dealt with that issue. To summarize, particular districts remain stable and ungerrymanderable as watersheds. The relative weights of the representatives' votes become different in one of the legislative houses, while in the other, the watershed vote weights remain equal. That integrates your concern already, and brings up an issue you didn't address on unequal development. If population were the only factor, then it is a bias of more populated degradative areas against depopulated areas where the latter feel the brunt of the environmental degradation policy pressure from the more populated areas. Thus if the only concern is population (instead of the wider long term interest in land sustainability), the former will always will set up a feedback loop in policy toward environmental degradation. I think that is Chapter #20 and/or in the first few chapters dealing with watershed/bioregionally sensitive congressional districts. I can't put everything in a blog post! Your query is already mentioned in much more detail in the book.

So stable watersheds with different weights is the way to solve different population issues with stable districts, as well as check and balance against such weights in stable watershed districts with stable vote weights against that. Already solved in another check and balance.

"...watersheds are geological features that are difficult to gerrymander but it is still possible to do so...

How? That's so vague. An example? If you don't have an example, you don't have a case.

A permanent district not keyed to a particular human party's gerrymander is by definition [1] far more non-partisan and [2] party-competitive. [3] Only a watershed would assure a stable manner of risk feedback for an area based on what people PHYSICALLY AND TANGIBLY share for real in a local environment beyond and above their different ideological party supports.

As a side note, it is mistaken to say watersheds are simply geological features. Watersheds are areas in which humans share a physically real and common risk because of how much pollution gathers and flows from one area to another.

Thus, watersheds have always been human political boundaries for risk feedback. In a degradative state, this has simply not been integrated --yet. :-)

There's much more on that in the book.

Thanks for your comments.

9/25/2007 3:12 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

I think the above was an earlier take on the issue.

The book has something about (for a federal Congress) durable watersheds equally weighted in one house, the lower house. If the U.S is taken as an example, that would be a bit over 2100 watershed/districts. And for the upper house (for a federal Congress) no watershed districts-- though all Senators are elected from the full state to avoid gerrymandering that way. (As an aside, they are elected under PRMA (proportional representation with majoritarian allotment). There can be one, two, or up to three, senators carving up the 2 votes between them and only given the power of their actual vote total percentages as a sign of the extent that the people trust them. No more low approval wins getting unsupported levels of high power in this way. PRMA outcomes would be more accurate direct manners of giving certain people only a certain amount of power that the aggregate vote decides each time.)

Thus, the non-gerrymandered issues for the federal upper house is the full bailiwick of the state, and it is a check and balance against smaller watersheds-only representation in the lower house, to have other Senatorial representatives elected from the full state.

For the other location and how it plays out:

For a local state, there is a further issue that you didn't bring up: whether watersheds mean 'full watershed' (that would extend over a current abstract state's borders) or 'partial watershed' bailiwicks (that would be 'cut in two' by the current contiguous territory of pre-existing states.

Both of these are adopted and utilized as a check and balance against each other in a similar way on the local level legislatures.

The lower house utilizes equal watershed representation and relative weights, full watershed; the upper house (in a state) using equal weighted watersheds, though using the 'partial watershed' of the current contiguous state.

(As well for the federal level legislatures, they utilize the 'partial watershed' frameworks mentioned above. There are diagrams of what this looks like in some maps of existing watersheds on pages 140-41.)

9/25/2007 10:35 PM  

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