One of the most fundamental aspects of a democracy is that citizens vote for their leaders rather than politicians selecting their voters through partisan redistricting (gerrymandering). On October 3, 2017, the US Supreme Court heard a case that could end this practice forever. It is hard to know how the justices will rule on this issue but one thing is certain: anything that leads to more political competition will be welcome. As noted in our August 14, 2017 blog, too many states, and too many districts within those states are currently noncompetitive. More than a few districts don’t even provide voters with a choice: no-one wants to waste time and money running as an opposition candidate, knowing they are doomed to lose. Americans deserve better. Let’s hope the Supreme Court justices lend a hand.
At least some of our differences arise quite naturally from geography and demography – rural and urban situations are quite different. Cynical politicians and media use those differences to divide us. We don’t have to fall for it. We should vote for leaders who will honestly address our different needs.
Democracy truly is under attack. Cyber techniques are the latest weapons. They are aimed directly at us, seeking to stimulate emotion over thought, sowing doubt and distrust. More computerization is not the answer.
The formation of the new Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity raises an interesting question. If there were cheating in the US presidential election, or any election, what would it look like? It is easy to visualize – if you can get the right data – but can be complicated to interpret.
There has been a lot talk about the urban/rural split in American politics, as well as growing political polarization. All true. But there’s a deeper point to be made. Our democracy is undermined when people are segregated into different camps with only limited opportunities for political competition and collaboration. We need to make a change. Fortunately, we have choices. There are viable options – if we are willing to put the work in.
The educational foundations of our civic house rest on shaky ground. U.S., investments at the federal level in education for democratic citizenship—including in support for civics, government, and American history courses—have declined significantly.