Vote them out early, vote them out often…

Matthew Engel was in combative mood in the FT on Saturday. He notes that the most rotten legacy of twelve years: a gerrymander operation that has dug most incumbents in so deeply that the battleground is confined to a small minority of seats. Electoral insecurity, he argues, is the best way to keep politicians honest.

Engel’s Law applies every bit as much – or more – in the peculiar circumstances of the American Congress, which can enact its whims without having to take responsibility for executing them. Theoretically, the House of Representatives is the most accountable legislature in the world. Its members have to submit to the holy will of the people every two years. In fact, control has changed hands just once – once! – in the past half-century.

Lately, this has been bolstered by the gerrymander. Not an old-fashioned, straightforward fair-cheating-all-round kind of gerrymander, whereby one party rigs the boundaries to keep out the other – the kind of racket that has been the staple of semi-mature democracies since the concept was invented in New York two centuries ago.

Instead, this is a malevolent variation, in which the system is rigged to ensure the maximum number of safe seats for both sides, and the minimum number that can change hands, however relentless the landslide. It is a conspiracy by the political class against everyone else. Most congressmen now expect a job for life.

  • Aaron McDaid (was Occasional Commentator)

    It’s sad that an otherwise good article was ruined by criticism of the (perfectly legal) sex lives of some politicians. Even if it’s fair criticism, it’s not relevant to the article.

  • Greenflag

    Good article and I expect Matthew Engel’s wish to see the Republicans lose their House majority come true .

    The list of ‘corrupt ‘ Republican politicians grows longer each day .

    More importantly Engel’s rule should be applied closer to home . Northern Ireland with it’s one party state /Government 1920 to 1972 finally collapsed under the weight of it’s corruption and incompetence .

    And what is proposed to take it’s place ?

    Assuming there is a DUP/SF coalition then NI will be condemned to another generation of government without ‘opposition’ albeit it would be two party ‘dictatorship’ rather than the one .

    The USA is now facing the consequences of having elected politicians to Government who came up through the ranks of the Christian coalition/moral majority etc etc . It seems that for many of these so called christians their religious credentials were when all is said and done -skin deep . A facade to fool the naive and gullible and non questioning believers .

    I suspect a large number of American conservatives will stay at home and that independent voters will vote for the Democrats not because they see the Democrats as having the ‘solutions ‘ but simply to stop the Republicans from turning the USA into effectively a one party State .

    References to the compassionate ‘conservatism ‘ of Bush’s first term are now seen for what they truly were. A mask to cover up the hijacking of American democracy by the far right of the Republican party.