Putting Democracy Back into American Politics

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For most us, redistricting is as confusing as the labyrinth at Chartres and about as interesting as reading congressional transcripts. Yet nothing — not even money — has a bigger influence on determining who gets elected and who doesn’t in America today.

California’s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently called for a drastic overhaul of his state’s redistricting system. He says it is designed to keep extreme politicians from both parties in office — making it impossible for voters to kick incumbents out.

He points to California’s last election where more than 150 congressional and legislative seats were up for grabs — and not one changed parties. And the problem goes far beyond California. Many say that the 2004 Congressional election was the least competitive in history.


Bruce Cain, Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley, Director of the Institute of Governmental Studies, and author of “The Reapportionment Puzzle,” and “Congressional Redistricting”

Chris Bell, former Democratic Congressman from Houston, Texas, currently an attorney with Stanley Phillips & Bell in Houston

Mark Barabak, State and National Political Reporter for the LA Times.