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Does Gerrymandering Cause Polarization Essay

553 words - 3 pages

Does Gerrymandering cause polarization, is the question put forth by this article. Undoubtedly gerrymandering is currently a hot topic with the census last year and a very large democratic majority currently sitting in the house and senate. Though many claim that increasing polarization is caused by gerrymandering, is that what it really is? Does gerrymandering in fact hurt America? These topics are exactly what are discussed in great detail and length by McCarthy, Poole and Rosenthal in The American Journal of Political Science.
The three authors discuss how this theory, of how gerrymandering is what’s causing the political polarization of America is “attractive not only because of analytical elegance, but also because it suggests a single, perhaps even feasible, solution to what ails the American polity: take the ...view middle of the document...

Consequently, partisan gerrymandering leads to more competitive districts than noncompetitive districts and has an ambiguous effect on polarization.

Polarization could come from other sources as well though, for example “increases in partisan voting, realignment, or just geographic clustering of the likeminded.”

The authors go on to conclude the paper saying even though there is a lack of evidence that gerrymandering is the cause of increased polarization, it certainly aided the republicans in the 108th congress, but it proved to be their downfall in 2006 when the tide turned in favor of the democrats. They say that a mixture of partisanship and lack of electoral competition for congress leads to polarization. Also perhaps the lack of one party in the south and one in the north and an increase in geographical sorting of political and social ideas has led to the increase.

Though I do respect the opinion of the authors of this article I disagree with their conclusion that gerrymandering is not responsible for increased polarization in political attitudes. It seems to me that people who feel they are a minority or that their votes are not being heard will become more and more politically active. For instance when someone sees that their state is cut up in an obviously favorable fashion for an opposing party, packing or cracking the majority into smaller or larger districts they might become more active, perhaps to try and win over more people to sway the voters how they feel is right. To sum up my opinion, people have a desire to be heard, and the less heard they are the more they want to be, so it stands to reason that gerrymandering could very well be the cause of the increased polarization of our country’s politics.

Sources:
American Journal of Political Science; Volume 53; issue 3.
Article: Does Gerrymandering cause polarization?

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