George Washington solemnly warned against political parties in his Farewell Address as he foresaw that they would transform citizens into partisans. (Webster defines partisan as: an adherent or supporter of a person, party or cause, esp. one who shows a biased, unthinking alliance.) It wasn't long before he was proven prophetic, for Gov. Elbridge sought political advantage in the redistricting of Massachusetts in 1812, and the term gerrymandering was born.
Gerrymandering has hung around for over 200 years despite the deleterious impact it continues to have on our representative government. In practice, it succeeds in establishing boundaries of legislative districts within each state in such a manner as to produce a net effect favored by whatever authority is charged with the redistricting responsibility.
Recent efforts have been made to prevent politicization in redistricting. One approach is to utilize a neutral panel of citizens in accomplishing the task. I would argue that it would be better to allow the disinterested computer to provide nonpartisan results by denying it any information on political affiliation when inputting the population distribution.
As the 2020 census draws closer and another redistricting will closely follow, there have been increased efforts to end gerrymandering. The League of Women Voters has scheduled a meeting on redistricting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 5 at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library. I urge you to attend and become informed, for righting the wrong of gerrymandering needs to be a grassroots movement.
Corvallis (Nov. 28)