We realize that our system of government, our constitutional structure, allows for winners and losers.
Nationally, and in a majority of states, Republicans presently enjoy the “winner” label.
Not so long ago, when President Obama was elected, the Democrats went on a nice run after taking the House and Senate from Republican control at the end of the George W. Bush era.
Since the Civil War, through 80 sessions of Congress, Democrats have enjoyed majority status in the Senate 38 times compared to the Republicans 40. In the House of Representatives Democrats have held sway 44 times to the Republicans 36.
History has proven that our nation’s government swings from Republican to Democrat, conservative to liberal, on a changing metronomic rhythm that we don’t fully understand, one that generally coincides with one party holding the White House for multiple terms.
In other words, the party that holds the White House can expect to see losses in the House and Senate each election cycle until a tipping point is reached and control flips.
In spite of each party’s attempts to gerrymander districts that benefit their incumbents, majorities eventually flip.
So one may logically ask: Why should the current gerrymandering lawsuits change anything? Has something about gerrymandering fundamentally changed?
We believe the answer is yes.
This is not about the recent presidential election. President Trump was favored by a majority of ALL Pennsylvania voters.
Congressional and statehouse districts are now so contorted and minorities so tightly packed into their districts — especially in Pennsylvania — it is inconceivable that the minority party can ever achieve a win unless the boundaries are changed. Districts now end up with representatives and senators who live nowhere near the areas they represent, setting up a potential lack of understanding for the true issues facing those areas.
And it shows in the votes.
While Republicans currently hold majorities in the House and Senate in Pennsylvania, Democrats lead the way in statewide elected positions like governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, auditor general and treasurer, as well as holding a 5-2 advantage on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
But the boundaries will not change unless minorities win.
So the question before the various courts is not just about fundamental fairness, but equal protection — the idea of “one man one vote.”
Naturally, many Republicans like things just the way they are. But if and when things change and Democrats one day take back control, will Republicans still be OK with the system?
Cumberland County Commissioner Vince DiFilippo points out the state of Iowa seems to have figured out a fair system with common sense rules that keep towns and other population boundaries intact while avoiding political considerations.
We applaud the Cumberland County commissioners for helping lead a discussion of this issue and pushing fairness over politics. We hope the state follows suit.