In 2011 one such area which requires their attention is the redistricting process.
This once every decade event, shapes the political landscape of every state in our nation as well as national government. It determines the districts which we elect our leaders from. Everything from City council lines to legislative districts and congressional districts are drawn. Left to their own devices, in the hands of politicians the process becomes one known as gerrymandering. It is an underhanded practice that divides communities not along geographic lines but along political lines. Left in the hands of politicians and political parties, redistricting is based on how they can draw districts that contain a majority of votes for their Party’s candidates.
This gerrymandering process undermines the electoral process. It helps determine election results before campaigns have even started by insuring that a minority of one Party and the majority of the other constitute the makeup of enough districts to elect a majority in state legislatures and the House of Representatives, thereby insuring one Party or the other, control of those legislative bodies and the legislative process.
Gerrymandering is the reason why so few seats in Congress are competitive. It is why the defeat of less than 14% of incumbent House members in 2010 was considered a political landslide. It is why out of 435 seats in the House of Representatives, only an approximate number of 100 of them were really contested. The other 335 were forgone conclusions.
This is unacceptable for those who have a vested interest in fair elections and the democratic process. This should be unacceptable to those who consider themselves a part of the TEA Party and are fed up with political games as usual and political sleights of hand. It should be intolerable to those who wish to see their elected officials elected based upon their qualifications, their beliefs and their effectiveness, not just simply their Party registration.
That is why it is important that the TEA Party not rest on their laurels for too long. They have tasted victory in 2010 but that now means that in 2011 they have a responsibility to fulfill. They can’t just effect the outcome of one election and retreat back to their less civic oriented days of casual or occasional political involvement or concern. They must continue to learn about the behind the scenes political process that cheats us all out a fair process. They must work as hard as they did to effect the elections of 2010, to now effect the process that effects those elections.
During the next few months, state legislatures across America will be begin to slice and dice the political maps. In the vast majority of states, the process is run and determined by each state’s upper and lower houses of the legislature and the Governor. For some states that means one Part is in total control of the process. In other states it means that Republicans and Democrats are both involved in hammering the new district lines together. But even in those cases, political deals are cut in order to save one legislator other.
That is why the very next mission of the TEA Party must be to interject itself in to the redistricting process. They must educate themselves about the process, establish their own suggested guidelines in drawing the new district lines and demand that those guidelines are heard and applied, fairly and properly.
In New Jersey, thanks in large part to Assemblyman Jay Webber, the Chairman of the Republican Delegation to the New Jersey redistricting Commission, at least four public hearing swill be held in order to get the publics input on the redistricting process. It is an opportunity which we she seek more of and must take advantage of.
Those hearing are currently scheduled as follows;
- Wednesday, January 12 6 pm Rutgers Law School, Newark
- Thursday, January 13 6 pm Hudson County Community College, Jersey City
- Tuesday, January 18 6 pm Rowan University, Glassboro
- Thursday, January 20 6 pm Ocean County Administration Building, Toms River