Simply put, the way House seats and state legislature seats are determined right now is full of corruption, and is inherently undemocratic. Elected officials, given the right to draw district lines, can shape the districts as they so choose to advantage themselves and shut out their opponents. Even when parties have a balance of power, districts are drawn such that they are so predominatly Democratic or Republican, which the other party goes along with because they’re getting their own territory at the same time. Our country is analyzed, counted, charted, parceled out and divided up, all so no incumbent will ever have to face losing an election.
In almost every district in the United States, your vote for the House of Representatives literally does not, and cannot, matter.
This has been going on as long as there have been districts to redraw and politicians to redraw them. But in the last few decades, its gotten especially nasty and absurd. Here’s Louisiana’s 7 voting districts. http://www.fraudfactor.com/images/fflouisianacongmap.gif
How does this happen? Louisiana has 7 representatives districts. This is determined by the census and population figures. Who draws those districts? Politicians, who have agendas, typically the banal agenda of personal stability and party cronyism.
There have been experiments with having non-partisan groups or computers draw voting districts, which is certainly an improvment on political redistricting, but there is still a fatal flaw: these districts must be approved by politicians, who will not do so if it does not serve their agenda.
The solution is to do away entirely with voting districts and switch to a system of proportional representation. That is to say, on election day, the Louisiana voters don’t vote for a person, they vote for a Political Party (which really isn’t that far from how most US voters act anyways). And suppose after the polls close, the Democrats have roughly 5/7 of the vote, and the Republicans have 2/7 (to pick a number out of thin air that is probably not actually representative at all of Louisiana politics). Louisiana Democrats would send 5 representatives to Washington, chosen by the party from a party list. In states with open primaries, such as Wisconsin, it is likely that the order of the list would be determined in advance by voters.
There are many benefits to this system. It allows for fifty statewide elections instead of over four-hundred local elections. It far more accurately represents the will of the people than the current system. It minimizes campaign costs. ‘Pork’-style legislation will be lowered, since representatives have an entire state to cater to, not a tiny district that therefore must recieve some federal funds.
Best of all, since redistricting is done on a state level, it only takes one state to do this on their own; no national push is necessary. All it takes is for one state to do it on its own, one progressively and rationally minded state to start the big switchover. Others will follow, others won’t, but our nation will be better for it.