by John Hawkins | November 11, 2004 5:56 pm
In his latest column, David Broder points out, correctly, that not only does the House of Representatives no longer serve the function that the Founding Fathers intended for it, it has largely ceased to be a Democratic Institution…
“Rob Richie, executive director of FairVote-The Center for Voting and Democracy, said in a memo last week that “this House election was the least competitive in history.” He based that claim, he told me, on the fact that outside of Texas, where a controversial Republican redistricting in 2003 succeeded in defeating four of five targeted Democrats, only three incumbents lost their seats. That’s a 99 percent success rate outside Texas.
The Supreme Court has ordered a lower court to rehear the Texas redistricting case, but unless it someday decides to curb partisan gerrymandering, the makeup of the House is almost immune to change. Thanks to rigged boundaries and the incumbents’ immense fundraising advantage, nearly 96 percent of the “races” were won by a margin of at least 10 percent. Richie noted that 29 of the 33 open seats (with no incumbents running) stayed with the same party. The turnout of voters was about 50 percent higher than in off-year 2002, but party ratios in the House barely budged.
At the founding of this republic, House members were given the shortest terms — half the length of the president’s, one-third that of senators — to ensure that they would be sensitive to any shifts in public opinion. Now they have more job security than the queen of England — and as little need to seek their subjects’ assent.”
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