Feature

A square way to fix politics

Instead of gerrymandering congressional districts to suit political needs, why not redraw the electoral map so that each district has four corners, each one a right angle? asked Joe Keohane in <em>The Boston Globe.</em>

Joe KeohaneThe Boston Globe

The best solution to political gridlock may rest with simple geometry, said Joe Keohane. Why not make all congressional districts rectangular? For years, electoral maps have been gerrymandered “to pack friendly voters into a single district to protect incumbents, or to disperse unfriendly voters to undercut an opponent.” That’s why Alabama’s 7th congressional “looks like the Challenger explosion,” while the Texas 29th resembles “a griffon that’s been run over by a lawn mower.”

Such contortions have practically become the norm, and they often produce extremely partisan representatives who prefer “tossing red meat to their bases” to solving the nation’s problems. A lot of this nonsense would be eliminated “simply by mandating that every district have four corners, each one a right angle. Districts could be wide, or long, or square, depending on population.” But they would have to be rectangular, so politicians would be prevented from “equipping their districts with tentacles” to draw in certain voters.

States aren’t perfect squares, so some flexibility would be needed. But it can be done, and we’d end up with lawmakers who must at least consider divergent views and seek some middle ground. And it would give new meaning to the phrase “fair and square.”

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