What an election! Close races for governor and senator. It kept me tuned in late watching the election news.
Yet, when it came to the House of Representatives, the one body our Founders said should most closely reflect the sentiments of the people, well, election day was a bore. The reelection rate was 98 percent once again. Only eight incumbents defeated. And four of those brought down by other incumbents, thanks to redistricting.
When congressional districts are re-drawn, as they are every ten years, there’s typically a tad more competition for House seats in the next election cycle. But not this year. For instance, in New Jersey only one of 13 congressional races was won with less than 60 percent of the vote.
The story is the same in other states. In California, only Gary Condit’s House seat was really up for grabs. Fact is, in House races, incumbency dominates. The solution is term limits, but one partial answer is redistricting. At present, politicians in the state legislatures draw districts with a view to reelecting all the incumbents. Districts are skewed to the Republicans or Democrats to be “safe.” Safe from voters and safe from competition, that is.
The answer is to take politicians completely out of the process. Iowa has set up a non-political commission to draw their congressional districts and has quickly become more competitive. In nearly half the states, such a change can be made over the heads of the politicians, through the citizen initiative process. Let’s roll.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.