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28 July 2014

Georgia Congressman Blames Gerrymandering by Democrats & Republicans for Washington Gridlock

Once upon a time, not so long ago, Republicans and Democrats came together and passed a landmark piece of legislation; the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Democrats say recalcitrant Republicans are to blame for the do-nothing Congress. Republicans say daft Democrats are at fault. The truth, according to Georgia Congressman John Barrow, is that both parties are accomplices to the murder of bipartisan cooperation in our nation's capital.
289 Republican and Democrat members of the U.S. House voted to pass the Civil Rights bill in 1964.

Two Republicans and two Democrats --Everett Dirksen (R-IL), Thomas Kuchel (R-CA), Hubert Humphrey (D-MN), and Mike Mansfield (D-MT)-- helped break the southern Democrat filibuster of the Civil Rights Act in the U.S. Senate.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson, a Democrat, signed the historic Civil Rights Act into law on 2 July 1964.

Republicans and Democrats both took credit for such an amazing accomplishment because both Republicans and Democrats earned the credit for their hard work in completing this task.

These days though, such bipartisanship is dead.

Political observers at NBC News say Congress is completely broken.

[Congress] can’t even seem to do the small, bipartisan things anymore.

Folks, we’re not talking about overhauling the nation’s health-care system, enacting comprehensive immigration reform, raising taxes, or changing entitlement programs -- all of which have sparked fierce ideological battles in the past. We’re talking about the small stuff, actions that either have near-universal support or that cost relative drops in the federal budget.

That’s why this gridlock is different.

What also is different is the current resistance to give the political opposition ANYTHING that could resemble a win -- no matter how small, no matter how seemingly uncontroversial.

Because NOW the assumption is: If a political opponent “wins,” then I lose. It’s all become a zero-sum game.

Todd, Murray, and Dann (25 July 2014). A New Kind of Gridlock: Why Congress Is More Broken Than Ever. NBC News. Retrieved on 28 July 2014.


Democrats say recalcitrant Republicans are to blame for the do-nothing Congress. Republicans say daft Democrats are at fault. The truth, according to Georgia Congressman John Barrow, is that both parties are accomplices to the murder of bipartisan cooperation in our nation's capital.
(Georgia Congressman John Barrow says nonpartisan redistricting could break the gridlock in Washington. Image courtesy U.S. House of Representatives)

In a 26 July 2014 Statesboro Herald article, Barrow says, "We have rigged the political process in such a fashion that the extreme points of view in this country are overrepresented in Congress" [Wermers (26 July 2014). John Barrow offers his take on gridlock. Statesboro Herald. Retrieved on 2014 July 28.].

Gerrymandering by Democrats and Republicans, that is the drawing of congressional district maps to give one political party an unfair advantage over the other, produced seats that are either safe Democrat or safe Republican.

Due to gerrymandering, no one expects a Republican to win an election in Georgia's extremely liberal fourth congressional district. Likewise, no one expects a Democrat to carry Georgia's extremely conservative tenth district. Both congressional seats are decided in the primaries, where only the most rabid ideologues participate.

"That means today, the vast majority of elected congressional representatives are rewarded for practicing ideological partisanship rather than cooperation," Barrow said, "leading to the stalemate that has occurred so often on Capitol Hill in recent years."

Barrow, a Democrat, says the answer to breaking Washington's gridlock is nonpartisan redistricting; taking the power of drawing district maps out of the hands of Democrats and Republicans, and allowing an impartial panel to level the playing field.

"Folks would rather have a system where the people choose their representatives, rather than the representatives choosing their voters," Barrow said.

Radical left-wing groups have often accused John Barrow of being a Democrat-In-Name-Only (DINO) for his cooperation with Republicans on certain issues. Those insults are likely to begin again with his endorsement of nonpartisan redistricting. After all, these people would rather "win" than govern. But with each "win" the country as a whole loses due to the fact that nothing gets done.