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UMass men’s basketball falters in the second half, falling to George Washington 83-67 Thursday -

February 24, 2017

UPDATE: SGA announces second and third artist for ‘Mullins Live!’ -

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Divest UMass and STPEC host panel on building ‘solidarity economies’ in the Trump era -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s basketball losing streak extends to 10 games after loss to URI -

February 23, 2017

Sixth annual Advocacy Day set to take place March 1 -

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Panel discusses racial, sexual and psychological violence in response to art exhibit -

February 23, 2017

Judy Dixon enters final season with UMass tennis with simple message: One match at a time -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball enduring early-season limitation in playing in New England -

February 23, 2017

Minutewomen softball begins season with cross-country travel, string of tournaments -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball looks to bounce back from disappointing 2016 season -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior Hannah Murphy is Angela McMahon’s latest legend in the making -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior defenders accept leadership roles in quest for ninth consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship -

February 23, 2017

Kelsey McGovern rejoins UMass women’s lacrosse as an assistant coach after starring for Minutewomen -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to continue improving throughout 2017 season -

February 23, 2017

Spring Sports Special Issue 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defense relying on senior leadership with new faces in starting lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball fills holes left by seniors with freshmen for 2017 -

February 23, 2017

The Hart of the Lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball prepares for a long, busy season in 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defenseman Tyler Weeks makes his way back from ACL injury -

February 23, 2017

Expanding the Size of the House – Part II

There were a few points I would have liked to include in my October 14 column on the merits of increasing the size of the US House of Representatives. The most important one was how it would make gerrymandering so much more difficult for both the Democrats and Republicans.

In case you are not familiar with the term, gerrymandering referes to the practice of arranging a state’s congressional districts so as to favor one party over the other. It is the primary tool that politicians in both parties use to protect incumbents by ensuring that each district will contain a large majority of voters from the party that wants to stay in power. There is nothing illegal about this practice, but just because it is legal does not make it right.

Gerrymandering leads to situations like we have in Massachusetts, where there is nobody in the House representing the million or so Republicans who live here. That is not some fictional figure, but is based on the fact that over 1.1 million people voted for John McCain in 2008 (Source). To be sure, the subordination of the GOP in Massachusetts is not due entirely to gerrymandering but the Democrats of this state have used their long-standing control over the redistricting process to make it tremendously difficult for Republicans to compete.

Take, for example, Barney Frank’s 4th district. This is perhaps the clearest example of how badly gerrymandered our congressional districts are. Here is a map of the 4th district:

Source: http://www.sec.state.ma.us/cis/cispdf/mauscongdist4.pdf

Source: http://www.sec.state.ma.us/cis/cispdf/mauscongdist4.pdf

Note that it starts in close to the city and meanders to the south-west before heading towards Fall River in a pattern that makes no geographical sense whatsoever. That is, until one looks at a map of where the Republican voters of Massachusetts live. Here is a map of the state indicating which towns voted for which candiate in the 2008 presidential election with redder towns indicating wider margins for McCain, and therefore a greater number of Republicans living in those areas.

Comparing the two maps it is clear that the Democrats have specifically designed the 4th district to ensure that however many Republicans there might be in the southern part of the state, their numbers will be overbalanced by the huge proportion of Democrat voters in the areas closer to Boston. Because of this situation, there is very little chance that any Republican could ever unseat Congressman Barney Frank.

Massachusetts is certainly not alone in how badly our districts are gerrymandered to favor one party, and I am sure that Democrats in states like Texas face similar problems. That is why dramatically reducing the size of each congressional district by vastly increasing the number of Representatives in the House is such a good idea. If the districts contained no more than 50,000 to 60,000 people, Massachusetts would have between 108 and 130 Representatives instead of the ten we have now!

It would make it exceedingly difficult to gerrymander the congressional districts in the same way, and would guaranteee that the minority parties in each state would have at least some representation in Congress. It would also make 3rd party candidacy a real thing, instead of the chimera it always turns out to be. Once people from the Libertarian, Green, and other parties start to get elected to the House, and start to build a record of governance, a viable 3rd party candidate for President cannot be too far behind. Anyone who finds the two-party system we have now distasteful should be very attracted to the notion of a much larger, and more representative, House of Representatives.

Ben Rudnick can be reached at brudnick@student.umass.edu.

Comments
2 Responses to “Expanding the Size of the House – Part II”
  1. Zack says:

    I still find this to be overly idealistic, and not practical at all. If anything there is less of a need for so many representatives because of the overall adjustment to a nation based system rather than a state based system. Once again, growing the size of government, including paying for an additional 5000 representatives and their staff’s salaries is not good for this country.

  2. Dan says:

    More voices and fair representation in government are never a bad thing.

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