Saturday, October 09, 2004

American Democracy (5)

Part 1 Part 2, Part 3 & Part 4 All need to be read first.

Now, we have seen that part of the problem is political boundaries. It's a major problem of democracy. An example is Northern Ireland/Ulster/Six COunties, North of Ireland (take your pick). Sinn Fein maintained for 80-odd years than a majority election victory ceded Ireland from the UK. The Unionists pointed out that a majority in the six counties didn't carry it. Both sides were trying to draw the political unit to ensure they were the majority within it.

This is gerrymandering, and the BBC report Here the practise is alive and well in America. Districts are drawn up to avoid electoral confrontation and secure, erm, secure majorities. obviously, the majorities have to exist in voters willing to turn up, but equally, boundaries could be drawn to make each fight a knife edge rather than a romp home.

Obviously, this hinders political competition, and decelerates the changes effected by shifts of opinion, as each stage of the process has to undo the gerrymandering of the other side in order to secure their control and their expression of support.

On a national scale, this remains true as well. Nixon's famous 'Southern Strategy' sought to take control of the Bible belt and turn the electoral college votes there into a secure Republican base. It still is, and it makes life difficult for teh Dems.

We can look at the fact too, that the Bush clan managed to take control of the political machienry in Texas and Florida - 34 and 27 Electoral College Votes, respectively.

Of course, controling the political machienry at state level makes it easier to secure the state for the presidential candidate, but not always. Anyway, every little helps, it seems.

This is the last for the day. A few more points need to be made, and I will make them. Rest assured.


Blogger Andrew Bartlett said...

A perennial problem for theorists of democracy. One, partial, solution is to attempt to define units economically, for example describing cities as having a 'gravitional effect' over a sphere of influence. I'd imagine that this would work better in the US mid-west than it would in, say, the UK.

Of course, 'objective' rules demand choices, and choices are always subjective.

12:05 AM  

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