In an article posted on the New York Times website today, author Michael Cooper interviews "Republicans, Democrats and independent political analysts" who say that redistricting as a result of this year's census will largely favor Republicans if they dominate state elections like they are expected to dominate national ones.
That, according to the article, will most likely lead to redrawing of districts in an attempt to create more Republican seats: otherwise known as gerrymandering.
"Redistricting ... turns the traditional definition of democracy on its head," Cooper explains. "Rather than allowing voters to choose their leaders, it allows leaders to choose their voters." And even though "new districts are supposed to reflect the population shifts measured by the census ... officials in both parties often try to gerrymander districts to help themselves and their parties win more elections."
That's probably true.
In an interview with Cooper, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels explained possible redistricting in his state. “We expect and intend to have a very nonpartisan redistricting process,” he said, complaining that the Congressional districts drawn 10 years ago had favored Democrats. “But the data tell us that any sort of fair redistricting is likely to improve Republican chances.”
But therein lies the problem with the article and the land mine that accompanies any discussion of redistricting: what Daniels calls "fair," Democrats will undoubtedly call unfair. Which begs the question: When does redistricting become gerrymandering? Is it just part of political life? Is it an egregious use of majority power? Or, both?