Under the Hat: Intentions of the Framers - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Under the Hat: Intentions of the Framers

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We are finally getting our first look at the new political lines being drawn following the 2010 census.

Those lines determine who will represent you at the state and federal level.

They are supposed to be drawn to reflect population changes to allow each state representative and member of Congress to represent roughly the same number of people.

The party currently in power gets to oversee the process which inevitably leads to calls from the minority of gerrymandering.

For the record, gerrymandering is the art of drawing the districts in a way that allows the party in power to stay in power by lumping like-minded voting blocks together.

It is named after a Massachusetts governor named Elbridge Gerry, who in 1812 approved a redrawn district that Boston political cartoonists thought looked like a salamander.

They accused him of Gerry-salamandering the district, and the phrase gerrymandering was born.

Critics argue that's what's happening in Erie County. At the state level the west county is being split up. At the congressional level east Erie County is being cut off and merged with the vast 5th District of Glenn Thompson, who lives all the way over near State College.

In neither case will Erie County be able to speak with a unified voice, so you might make the argument that what is good for the political landscape may not be good for the local communities.

Frankly, I don't even blame the politicians that much.

Asking a politician to not think politically is sort of like asking a zebra why he is wearing stripes after Labor Day.

They are what they are.

You don't give a kid a BB gun and then tell him not to shoot it.

That's why I've come to believe that the entire process has to be taken out of political hands.

Redistricting maps can only be challenged on constitutional grounds.

But if the end result of parties drawing the lines to keep districts in certain hands is the elimination of a competitive election process there, then isn't that on its face unconstitutional?

At the very least it surely must defy the intentions of the Framers.

If you believe that our politics have indeed run amok, I can think of no better place to start, than to get someone who isn't a fox, to watch our election chicken coop.

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