In case you missed it, Raleigh’s News & Observer is featuring an essay by one of the nation’s founding fathers today that highlights the sorry state of politics in 21st Century North Carolina.
As Elbridge Gerry — the man for whom gerrymandering was named — informs us:
“A short while ago, I read that most legislative districts in North Carolina were not even competitive, with nearly half of your General Assembly races having just one candidate on the ballot last year – effectively deciding the election before a single vote was cast. Sadly, the prime culprit depriving you of a choice at the ballot box is gerrymandering.
As someone who risked his life to establish American democracy, I must say that this is appalling. We fought our revolution for the right to decide our own fate, for the right to vote for our leaders. Now other Americans, from both political parties, are trying to take it all away.
I was really depressed when I realized this and was feeling more than a bit guilty for my role in pioneering such tactics, but lately I have seen some signs that gerrymandering may be waning.
Twenty-one states have taken the power of redistricting out of the hands of politicians and given it to independent commissions…
And about two weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court – one of our better creations when we wrote the Constitution – upheld the right of states to create these independent redistricting commissions. Justice Ginsberg got it right when she said ‘the people themselves are the originating source of all the powers of government.’
Also good news is that the U.S. Supreme Court told Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina that they needed to take another look at the way they did redistricting in the last round. They ordered Alabama to redo its map drawing and another court told Virginia to redo theirs. North Carolina is still up in the air.”
The bottom line: If even the man for whom gerrymandering was named can endorse a better path forward, surely Senator Phil Berger — the man responsible for the current mess in North Carolina — can do so. Come on Phil, don’t wait 203 years to admit your error.