Thursday, November 7, 2013

Super Majorities Here and Abroad

Congressional redistricting in Ohio is an example of what to expect from unconstrained super majorities here at home. In Ohio, whoever controls at least two-thirds of three state offices is able to control the legislative redistricting process. This almost always results in the party in control maximizing the number and demographically secure districts for itself. This process across much of the nation has resulted in the entrenched positions of both parties and thus much of the gridlock that we see in a divided Congress. When one political party has controlled all of Congress and the Presidency, there also has not been much moderation or collaboration.

When this is the behavior of super majorities in our own country, why should we expect anything different from super majorities abroad. Many Arab nations have a super majority of Muslims in their population. Maldives, for example, has a population which is 95% Muslim and their recent Constitution requires that to be a citizen of Maldives one has to be a Muslim.

The redistricting process in California has thus understandably drawn some attention. First, a law was passed that placed the redrawing of voting districts in the hands of an independent commission. California also did away with party primaries. Instead, everyone runs and votes in a single open primary, with Republicans and Democrats on the same ballot. The top two vote-getters compete in a runoff. The candidates are often thus inclined to reach out to a broader portion of the population to win the elections. Even though the Democrats still control both the Assembly and the Senate in the California legislature, it at least appears that the current legislature has had a tendency to be more moderate.