Skip navigation
Share via:

Pitch

Improve the odds of political support by engineering a more moderate and responsive Congress through minority party redistricting.


Description

Summary

To advance climate-related legislation as efficiently as possible in the US, we'll need a more responsive Congress -- less ideology, more moderation and compromise. Putting the minority in charge of redistricting creates a incentive for that Party to draw boundaries that put more districts in play rather than to gerrymander to protect incumbents. This will incline all Parties to draft candidates who can appeal to swing voters more than to a narrow base, increasing common ground and the potential for dialogue and compromise. It should also help constrain the undue influence of well-financed miniorities, and move them to the fringes where they can do the least systemic harm as obstructionists while contributing to systemic good as critical voices. This simple, strategic step should improve the health of American democratic institutions, and through it, the climatic health of our planet.  


Category of the action

Changing public perceptions on climate change


What actions do you propose?

Effecting this change will require a major grass-roots initiative in the form of a media storm both social and traditional, petition drives, ballot initiatives, and direct communication with elected officials and Party officers at all levels of government.

As this proposal, if adopted, would encourage newcomers to participate in the political process, it should be pitched to established politicians with historically high marks of constituent service and whose opponents advocate for term limits. Term limits encourage radicalization because short-timers have small reason to compromise; the also encourage gerrymandering because each party needs to draw safe districts where they can insert new radicals in succession, thus protecting their power base. Because term limits devalue the institutional knowledge of career politicians yet enjoy some currency with the public, viable alternatives may be of value to senior political leaders facing strong challenges and/or who are grooming successors. This will likely be the quickest, most effective way to bring this idea to national attention.  

 


Who will take these actions?

Representatives in State legislatures and the US Congress as directed by their electorate. A strategically-minded Party could also take up the cause.

That said, most of the work necessary to realize this proposal will be done by individuals and local organizations to build public support to a level that cannot be ignored by the major Parties and their State and National Committees. 

 


Where will these actions be taken?

Final action must be taken within the US House of Representatives and their State equivalents, but ultimate power lies with individual citizens, so most the early work will be done at home and in local communities, nationwide. This proposal really is about thinking globally and acting locally.

 

 


How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

This proposal would enable ratification of the Kyoto Accords and successors to it. Accordingly, that agreement sets the baseline estimate for emissions reductions.  


What are other key benefits?

This proposal can also be advanced as a voter-friendly, market-driven alternative to term limits. If enacted, it would avoid the kind of games seen in Arizona, for instance, where career politicians jump from one branch to the other and back in order to comply with term limits that disregard the value of their institutional knowledge -- their "firm-specific human capital". Because this benefits those who are or aspire to be career politicians, it may garner their support.

At the same time, in order to be continually reelected in relatively balanced districts, those politicians will have to provide good service to a wider variety of constituents, forcing them to be more responsive and even-handed. This benefits District residents and the Nation generally, so should be able to garner the support of individual voters.

Because it diversifies the customer base, this proposal helps offset the effect of the Citizens United ruling.  


What are the proposal’s costs?

There is probaby a political scientist somewhere who has estimated how many volunteer hours, staff hours, and Representative hours it takes to pass a bill through as Congress or a state legislature. In the fire service where I work, this would be referred to as "a shitload".

While it may seem that dollar costs for organizing a grass-roots effort should be relatively low, because of the adverse effect this proposal will have on major donors and donor institutions that benefit from Citizens United, serious opposition can be expected, and this will drive up costs. 

 


Time line

The goal is to have this reform in place for the 2020 redistricting so that we have a more climate-responsive Congress sooner rather than later, though 2030 may be more realistic.

There is no reason the effort cannot begin now, and become an issue for this year's mid-term elections as both Parties could spin it to their advantage. 

If I knew how to start and advertise  a Facebook petition, I'd have already done that. The process starts with this submission. I suppose the next step is to contact think-tanks and foundations for funding, or to start a foundation of my own and try crowd-sourcing. I am investigating forming a 527 or 501c4 organization too. Seems daunting  -- and there is so much else that needs doing. Please help.


Related proposals

None that I know of. 


References

The professional sports world is my reference. Giving the teams with the worst record first shot at talent encourages parity of competition, and through it the economic health of industry. Call it a market-based approach to the problem of disproportional minority voice and wealth disparity in the American democratic process, call it strategic human resource management for our political industry, there is no reason that making districts and elections more competitive should not benefit America generally, including its efforts to rationally address the causes and manage the consequences of climate change.

Another reference is the US Constitution itself, and other founding documents. The Founding Fathers were wise enough to balance countervailing interests against each other. This proposal follows that format, and as noted above, it works for the professional sports industry. Politics is a professional sport of social consequence beyond entertainment and betting -- though it includes both those activities. Our Nation's Founder's would likely agree.