Political Animal


April 20, 2013 11:42 AM Taking The Really Long View

I hope Jim Messina's Organizing for Action makes an impact, but what I really hope is that somebody takes a pessimistic long term view

By Jamie Malanowski

In the aftermath of the gun control vote, Joe Scarborough and others who favored the measure could be heard maintaining with steely resolve, “This issue is going to backfire on the opponents in the 2014 election.” Well, maybe. I hope so. I hope Michael Bloomberg’s money has an effect. I hope Jim Messina’s Organizing for Action makes an impact. But what I really hope is that somebody takes a very pessimistic long term view and concludes that maybe very little legislative progress can be made until we begin to make the world safe for moderate Republicans. What does that mean? Simply that money and organizational muscle and educational intelligence needs to be invested now in the long, hard process of working state-by-state to adopt non-partisan redistricting processes. We need to maximize the number of politically competitive districts in each state, and to minimize the number of safe seats that are over once the dominant party chooses its general election candidate. It’s all about Free Market politics. Unless elections are actually competitive, majorities don’t rule, minorities do, and we’re going to beat our heads stupid until we change the fundamental structures that block progress. It’s good to work for the 2014 elections; it might be better to work for the 2020 census and redistricting.

Jamie Malanowski is a writer and editor. He has been an editor at Time, Esquire and most recently Playboy, where he was Managing Editor.


  • ArchTeryx on April 20, 2013 12:27 PM:

    This is a necessary step, yes, but it is not, in fact the only important one: reform of the Senate must be done in tandem.

    Even if you entirely eliminated gerrymandering, every state, no matter how tiny, rural, and conservative, gets two Senators. So do giant urbanized (and more liberal) states. So the Republicans have a built-in advantage out of the gate. Add the filibuster-everything strategy they've adopted since Obama's election, and nothing gets done.

  • Brownell on April 20, 2013 2:34 PM:

    Or both 2014 and 2020. It would be sensible (but is it legal?) for the national congress to mandate non-partisan redistricting. Then the House could deny recognition to any representative from an improperly formed district.

  • rk on April 20, 2013 2:35 PM:

    States can redistrict at anytime. It is just that they usually choose to do so on a decadal basis. Win in 2014 and you can redistrict on any basis that you want.

  • Doug on April 20, 2013 5:17 PM:

    As the Federal government hasn't gotten to quite the dysfunctional state as the California state government had, I doubt there's going to be any demand for non-partisan re-districting commissions.
    Certainly not as long as the current bunch controls the GOP...

  • Rich on April 20, 2013 6:56 PM:

    One reason there was any action this time was that the NRA blinked and then showed how wacky it had become. Still, it has lots of money and plenty of Congresscritters to scare.

    The target needs to be the NRA. They're inflexible. They're out of step with the public will. They've evolved into a gun makers lobby that lies about its actually dwindling membership. Those are the talking points. Saying those things doesn't require the concern trolling tone and demonization of gun owners that many supporters of gun control seem to enjoy. It's an approach that could work in swing states.

  • Tim C. on April 20, 2013 7:07 PM:

    Are there any particularly good groups working on this effort overall?

  • Anonymous on April 20, 2013 11:25 PM:

    The system is rigged so that the controlling party picks the re-district lines. As long as this is the set-up it will fail democracy. I think a better way is to start a 3rd party, called the Women's Party. Women across the country, rural to urban have the same needs, issues and problems. Jobs, security, health care, education. The W.P. won't need cash from gun nuts and corporation$ & petroleum/land/air destroyers, they can self-fund twentyfive bucks apiece. I know they can win, and I hope they will take some guys like me in as fervent supporters!