Independent Redistricting Commision - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

Independent Redistricting Commision

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Posted: Sunday, December 2, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated: 3:57 pm, Thu Feb 14, 2013.

Thanks to the Independent Redistricting Commission, we might see something done in Congress this year.

Maybe.

The IRC was the subject (and still is, thanks to the state legislative Republicans using our tax money to sue the IRC, already having spent thousands of dollars in so far fruitless suits) of much controversy when it unveiled its new congressional and legislative districts.

They were biased, many claimed, giving the Democrats too much of a fighting chance in too many races.

Turns out that the districts actually created competition.

Something pols, especially incumbent pols, hate.

Which is interesting, given that Republicans always argue that competition is the key to success. Except in politics, apparently.

Nevertheless, while these new competitive districts might be bad for politicians, they might be great for the rest of us.

Just look at the congressional results.

We have nine men and women representing us in the House. Of those nine, six had secure seats: Gosar, Grijalva, Pastor, Salmon, Franks and Schweikert. All won by at least 30 percent against token opponents, some without even an opponent in the general election.

But in the three “competitive” districts, the winners had incredibly close races, with Barber, Kirkpatrick and Sinema winning by no more than 10,000 votes.

So what does this mean?

For the first six Congressmen above, it means that they are secure in their seats and can stake out the most ideological positions. Unsurprisingly, when you look at the incumbents in that group, you find that they are among the most reliably uncompromising of representatives, rarely if ever voting with the other party on any issue, let alone those of great import.

In other words, if we’re looking for those six to lead the way in seeking workable solutions for our Big Problems, we’ll be waiting awhile.

But for the other three?

The lesson from their election should be this: In a competitive district, acting as an inflexible ideologue is a ticket to one term.

So why is that great for us?

If we had more representatives — both in Congress and in our Legislature — who actually had to compete regularly for their seats, we’d see more working together to find solutions rather than dividing along ideological lines to remain “pure” to their bases.

Because in competitive districts, simply getting the “base” to turn out isn’t enough. Which means that to win, politicians must moderate their views.

We’ll see soon enough if I’m right. Let’s keep an eye on Sinema, Kirkpatrick and Barber as they serve us in the House of Representatives. Let’s see if my theory that competition will lead to solutions rather than stalemate proves true.

And if it does, we should thank the IRC for the job it did.

 

• Mike McClellan is an East Valley resident and former English teacher at Dobson High School in Mesa.

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