The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

July 24, 2013

Gerrymandered districts, political extremes

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 — RALEIGH — Tom Edsall, a longtime political writer for the Washington Post, recently wrote an online column for the New York Times entitled, "Has the GOP Gone Off the Deep End?"

The piece was no meandering pontification of his own thoughts regarding the shortcomings of the modern-day Republican Party.

Rather, it was filled with critical quotes from GOP stalwarts like Bob Dole and Jeb Bush.

Edsall's column appeared to have been sparked by comments from Thomas Doherty, a top aide to former New York Gov. George Pataki, who wrote that he had reached a breaking point and would be leaving the GOP if the U.S. House destroyed the Senate's version of immigration reform.

Prominent people becoming disaffected with either political party is nothing new.

Edsall, though, connected some interesting dots regarding the latest round of GOP disaffection.

He noted that the far-right brand of conservatism that increasingly rules the U.S. House has largely come about during the age of conservative talk radio. At the same time, Republicans fortunes in presidential races have suffered dramatically.

Edsall quoted an essay which pointed out that Republicans won seven of 10 presidential elections in the years before Rush Limbaugh dominated talk radio. In the years since, the GOP has won two of six.

Lurking about the margins of Edsall's piece, though never mentioned by name, was the 800-pound guerilla called redistricting.

Conservative talk radio may well have helped to further political polarization in this country. If so, its constant companion has been modern-day congressional district drawing that uses computer software and demographic information to completely disregard traditional communities and precinct lines in order to pack together Republican and Democratic voters.

The result: Safe districts where ideologues are elected or incumbents embrace ideological extremes to avoid primary challenges, knowing that no one from the opposing party stands a chance in the general election.

It is those gerrymandered districts, and not talk radio, that has created the extremes seen in the U.S. House, while moderation prevails in a U.S. Senate where candidates run in districts — called states — whose boundaries were established decades and centuries ago.

Against the national backdrop of which Edsall writes, North Carolina has seen its own conservative turn, with legislative Republicans now elected from GOP-drawn districts pushing an agenda that has at times put a Republican governor who ran as a moderate on the spot.

For the GOP in North Carolina, the world looks fairly hunky-dory right now. The party controls both the legislature and the governor's mansion.

But it doesn't take too much political insight to question whether Republicans running for statewide office in the future will suffer because of a lack of moderation and prudence by their counterparts in the legislature.

If that happens, those districts that look so good for GOP legislators will turn out to be the means of GOP destruction at the state level.

Scott Mooneyham is a syndicated columnist for Capitol Press Association and covers activities of the N.C. Legislature.

Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • Do White Castle prices tell us anything about the minimum wage?

    NEW YORK - Economists love hamburgers. Specifically fast-food burgers. This is partly because all right-thinking human beings love ground meat on a bun, but it's also because the sandwich makes a handy yardstick for international financial comparisons. The ingredients and labor involved in preparing a Big Mac are pretty much the same no matter where you are in the world, so by looking at how many hours of toiling it takes a worker to earn enough to purchase one, you can get a sense of how wages really stack up across countries. The Economist famously created the Big Mac index in 1986 to see which currencies were overvalued. It started as a joke. Now, as the magazine proudly notes, it's a subject of academic study.

    April 22, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    WASHINGTON - What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 22, 2014

  • Doug Creamer All in the Family

    We had a family get-together at my brother’s house on Easter Sunday. It’s hard to get our family together because we are spread out, especially when you consider nieces and nephews. My parents and siblings all made the gathering this year. Some of my nieces and nephews are far away, but they all remember gathering at my brother’s house for the holidays. Easter is known for the Jell-O eggs and the famous Easter egg hunt.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 19, 2014

  • The case for separate beds

    WASHINGTON - The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 19, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Obama's equal pay exaggeration leads us all into danger

    The president's claims of national shame over gender-based pay inequity spring from distorted calculations, as well as some convenient political math.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teens trading naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 12, 2014

  • Brent Laurenz If you want to vote in primary, you need to register to vote now

    RALEIGH – North Carolina voters will head to the polls on May 6 this year to cast ballots in important primary elections across the state.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scott Mooneyham Heeding the voter fraud call in N.C.

    RALEIGH – Legislators found the findings outrageous.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Roots

    I took a few minutes over the weekend to enjoy our yard and the arrival of spring. There seems to be so much work that needs to be done, it is hard to decide what to do first. I am excited that I got to run my tiller through the garden. I didn’t go very deep, but I did at least break up the soil. I have a couple of raised beds and the soil in them was in very good shape. I didn’t plant my peas and now after the big rain we got on Monday I realize that I missed a window of opportunity.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content