Is Partisan Gerrymandering a Larger Symbol For Loss of Trust in the Political Process?

An opinion essay in today’s WSJ, titled If Faith in Democracy Ebbs, Danger Rises, by Gerald F. Seib, generally discusses the loss of trust across the political spectrum in the political process.  The piece includes these chilling lines, based on the study of focus groups from both sides of the partisan divide:  “A lot of them have now just shut out the whole system,” he adds. “No one talks about elections now. [They say] we have to take to the streets.”

Interestingly, when Seib turns to asking what might stop this spiral of distrust, his starting point is an end to partisan gerrymandering.  He views this not just as important for its own sake, but for what partisan gerrymandering represents more broadly about whether the political system is perceived as rigged or fair:

How to turn this around? For starters, the nation needs leaders who, rather than stoke grievances, show they are committed to making the political system fair and effective. They could start with a commitment to end the gerrymandering of congressional districts for purely partisan benefit, a sin of which both parties are guilty.

For a long stretch in the 1970s and 1980s, Democrats were the ones who benefited from districts unfairly constructed to benefit their candidates; that was a time when that party controlled more levers at the state level where new districts are drawn. Now the tables have turned. Perhaps both sides can agree that the gerrymandering process is corrosive for all.

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