‘We the people’ are to blame

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In the matter of this country’s dire economic problems, the Congress has failed twice. How can the members of Congress, that body that views the word “compromise” as an epithet, who are so rigidly set in partisan politics, expect anything but failure from the so-called supercommittee? They utterly failed to address the problems themselves (that’s once), then appointed a committee made up of an equal number of Republicans and Democrats and expect a different outcome (that’s twice). When will this train wreck end? According to Gerald Sieb (New York Times, Nov. 22), this hyper-partisanship ultimately stems from how the carefully selected congressional districts are redrawn every 10 years thanks to computerized tracking of voters block by block, street by street. We end up with continual partisan districts that are safe for each party. The example he gives involved our state. In the past four election cycles, with its 53 House districts that are up for re-election every two years, the state held 212 elections for House seats. In all those past elections there has been exactly one case in which a seat changed party hands. Upon the next re-election campaigning, incumbents just have to appeal to their own party base, not to a cross-section of voters. And, please, do not anger your own party base by suggesting some compromising with the opposite party, which would be political suicide. So, consequently, the House member hunkers down, perhaps signs a pledge and never engages with the other side. Hopefully our state’s new citizen redistricting effort will slowly change that dysfunctional dynamic in the future. Kent Campbell, Auburn