Relax and Enjoy It

     On Tuesday, the U.S. Congress will re-elect itself and we’ll be asked to relax and enjoy it – four days after Halloween.
     Enjoy your sugar high.
     Here’s a chocolate bar – go away. Come back in two years.
     The Congress, and our electoral system, are hopelessly corrupt – so is the Supreme Court – and there is no way we can reform it, because the only way to do so is hopelessly boring.
     The only way to reform our corrupt system is to take the power of redistricting out of the hands of Congress.

     Republican gerrymandering, on the state and federal level, has packed congressional districts so tight that the average Republican House district today is 75 percent white.
     Our “minority” population can go holler up a tree.
     Pack ’em in and forget ’em.
     The only way to correct this is to take the power of re-election out of the hands of Congress, and return it to the people.
     But the only way to do that would be through a constitutional amendment, giving the people the power to draw congressional districts.
     Iowa has such a system – sort of. Its redistricting commission’s districts must be approved by the Legislature, which, as a small subset of our great system, in the Great State of Iowa, is subject to citizen scrutiny.
     But Iowa is way ahead of the rest of the nation on this – and look at Iowa politics. Decent. Issue-oriented. Clean. A Garrison Keillor state.
     Under Iowa’s system, counties cannot be split between congressional districts.
     Large cities cannot be split unless it’s necessary to keep the congressional districts within a 1 percent population difference.
     Iowa’s congressional delegation has two Republicans and two Democrats.
     To quote the late, great Gov. Al Smith: Let’s look at the record.
     In the 2012 general election, Democrats nationwide won 1.4 million more votes than Republicans in races for House of Representatives, but Republicans won control of the House by 234-201.
     In North Carolina that year, after the Republican Legislature redrew the maps, Democrats won 51 percent of votes for the U.S. House but only four of 13 seats.
     This is theft. This is crime.
     Iowa has its congressional lines drawn by a nonpartisan group called the Legislative Services Agency.
     Iowa, unlike any other state, draws its congressional districts without regard to where an incumbent congressman lives.
     What a concept: Congressmen forced to represent people other than themselves.
     Under our electoral system at large today – at large like a criminal – in the other 49 states, we do not elect our congressmen. They re-elect themselves.
     Thanks to our once-glorious system of government, I, a man of moderate income (exactly the national average, almost to the dime) have been able to drive across our great country dozens of times. In these trips, I stopped in small towns, read their newspapers, hung out and listened to the gossip.
     I’ve always been a snoop.
     Practically every small-town store and café in the U.S. heartland has a glass jug or two on the counter, asking for contributions for the family of a little girl who has cancer, or a little boy who was run over by a car.
     Americans, by and large, are good people. We’re generous. We help each other out.
     But you couldn’t prove it by Congress. They’re a bunch of greedy millionaire beggars. I wouldn’t trust any one of ’em, as my grandpa used to say, any farther than I could throw ’em.
     The only realistic chance of changing this is to take redistricting out of the hands of congressmen, and the two political parties.
     Does anyone have a slogan for me? One that could compete with “Immigrants Out!”?
     Or “Kardashian’s Breasts Exposed!”?
     Congress treats us like idiots. And so long as we act like idiots, that may not be what we deserve, but it’s what we’ll get.

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