If you do political blogging or reporting for a while, you end up hearing this question a lot: Why should I bother to come out and vote for the [insert epithet here meaning ‘not as ideologically sound as I am’]? This would be normally responded to with a polite “That’s a good question” and a variable-length stream of blather before the question is actually answered, but let’s cut to the chase. You bother to go out and vote for the [epithet] because:
- Voting for the [epithet] in the House helps get you a Speaker with control over the Rules Committee, and somebody friendlier as Chair of Oversight and Government Reform. Look them both up.
- Voting for the [epithet] in the Senate helps get you an atmosphere where half the judiciary/executive branch appointments that you would object to strenuously quietly die stillborn.
That’s the way it works* – but you’re thinking to yourself, Well, at least I don’t have to vote for an [epithet] for governor. – but alas, no. You do. In some ways that’s the most critical place where you would have to if necessary, in roughly half the races out there this cycle. Why?
Let’s look at two maps. The first (from the RNC) is of the projected changes in assigned Congressional Districts by state, in light of the 2010 Census:
Eighteen states will have to redraw their district maps next year (others will, too – but eighteen have no choice in the matter). Most important are Texas (+4) and Ohio (-2), but none of them are unimportant – and they’re all going to be of serious interest. The process will end with eleven Congressional Districts reassigned, which means that a net twenty-two districts will be created and lost.
Now look at this map from the RGA:
Fifteen of those eighteen states have gubernatorial elections this year. Which means that a total of nineteen Congressional races in 2012 may hinge on who has oversight of the redistricting process next year.
Currently, Louisiana and New Jersey have a Republican governor, and Washington state has a Democratic one. For the rest we absolutely must make certain that there are as many checks as possible on the other party’s ability to rewrite district maps to either give themselves insultingly safe seats (like PA-12’s) or maliciously redistrict particularly infuriating sitting Members of Congress (like Michele Bachmann’s**). Even in areas where there are supposed non-partisan checks on the process (like in Iowa) it still behooves conservatives to be vigilant: all the rules in the world won’t help you against an opponent who doesn’t take them seriously, and who knows that there’s nobody watching.
Hopefully, this is all a moot point for my readers, as they are perfectly happy to go vote for their current or expected gubernatorial candidate. But on the off chance that said candidate is an [epithet]… well. Vote for him or her anyway, because that [epithet] may be the only thing standing between a Member of Congress that you like and the redistricting knives.
*Like the argument or not, all you please: many don’t. But that’s the way the universe works. Sometimes you get to use power to do good, and sometimes you get to use power to prevent the bad. Our political history for the last four years shows the problems that crop up when you don’t have the ability to do the latter.
**The Left drools over the idea of redistricting her seat out of existence. Among others.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.