The feud in Kansas over new boundaries for state senate districts reveals an even deeper dysfunction in American government than the old trick of gerrymandering.
This dispute ended the legislative session with no decision on redistricting maps, and the task now is in the hands of three federal judges, who took two days of testimony this week.
At the root of the impasse is a bitter battle between moderate and conservative Republicans over control of state government. With the House and governor’s office in control of conservatives, only the Senate remains with moderate leadership.
Conservatives have sought to take control there, too, with candidates to challenge key moderate senators in the August primary election. Moderates in the Senate appeared to try to blunt that strategy by drawing new senate district lines to move conservative challengers out of these districts.
The art of gerrymandering goes way back, but historically it has been used by Republicans or Democrats to strengthen party control. In Kansas, the split within the Republican Party is prompting politically-driven redistricting, and the Democrats basically are on the sidelines.
Whether the districts conservatives or moderates created were most contrived, we don’t know. And it is almost irrelevant. The courts should be able to draw lines that are politically agnostic.
But just think for a moment what it says about the state of American politics when someone’s primary motivation in running for office is to defeat someone else. District lines wouldn’t matter much to a candidate if his purpose in running for office was to serve.
Isn’t that what it is supposed to be about? Not in America, where everything seems to be about us versus them.
Likewise, the same goes for incumbents. What does it say about a so-called public servant when he feels he has to draw district lines to go unchallenged by a potentially intimidating candidate? District lines wouldn’t matter if everyone who wanted to serve could just run on his own merits and let the voters decide who best would represent their interests.
— The Hutchinson News