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Draw your own conclusions on benefits of gerrymandering [Column]

ElectionsExecutive BranchU.S. House of RepresentativesTea Party MovementRepublican PartyChristopher Van Hollen Jr.

If Gen. Benedict Arnold, Capt. Charles Boycott, Sen. Joseph McCarthy and Gov. Elbridge Gerry had a voice in the matter, their names, or variations thereof would not be part of our political vocabulary.

The last instance is more pertinent to Carroll's current predicaments. Gerry had a long and distinguished career. He signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. He was instrumental in adding the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution. He was a vice president under President James Madison.

But we remember him only in relation to a particular piece of political chicanery. In 1812, while governor of Massachusetts, he rearranged the state senatorial districts to favor his party, the Democratic Republicans. One district across the North of Boston was so long and contorted that it was deemed to resemble a salamander. The distorted district was illustrated by the Boston Globe in the form of a political cartoon and the term "gerrymander" was added to our national political vocabulary. Elbridge Gerry is remembered only for that. He deserves a better fate.

Currently, Carroll County suffers the indignities of four different gerrymanders, two crafted by Republicans and two by Democrats.

Take a look at the districts for county commissioners. It was crafted by one wing of our local Republican party to make the reelection of Republican commissioners Julia Walsh Gouge and Perry Jones more difficult.

Look at the current map carefully. District 1 resembles not so much a salamander as a rhinoceros charging at Frederick County. District 2 encloses two popular politicians in the same district, Gouge and Haven Shoemaker. Scratch Gouge. District 4 resembles a seated elephant with District 5 a blanket across its hind quarters and former commissioner Jones curled up in its trunk. Scratch Jones, cut off from most of his natural constituency.

The second gerrymander, of state delegate districts, illustrates the contempt that the Democrats controlling Maryland state government have for permanently Republican Carroll County. Our delegation will have only three delegates and one senator actually from Carroll County. We badly need a Democratic voice or voices representing us in Annapolis.

The third gerrymander, of Congressional districts, might actually be an advantage for Carroll County. About 65% of our working population travels out of county for their daily commute. It would be a good thing if more high-paying corporate and government jobs were available within our borders. It would help with the tax burden and shorten the commute, saving gas and reducing pollution. Currently, the Democratic Party controls the Presidency and the Senate, and has an outside chance of taking over the House of Representatives.

U. S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (8th District) is a power figure among elected Democrats. It is good to have him in our corner when our commissioners go shopping for new employers (if they ever do.)

But after the recent meeting in Westminster where he was harassed unmercifully by some local Tea Party folk, he may not wish to hear the words "Carroll County" again.

Commissioner Richard Rothschild, not one of my favorite politicians, was savvy enough to urge the crowd to "Let him speak." Rothschild knows where decisions on facility placements, government loans, grants and so on come from.

Van Hollen is also on friendly terms with the state government, and as stated, we have no Democratic voice in Annapolis. The action by the harassers was not only uncivil and impolite, it was massively stupid and damaging to the interests of Carroll County.

The fourth gerrymander, actually a series of gerrymanders in other states with Republican governors and legislatures, has put a controlling minority of Tea Party folks in the House of Representatives even though the majority of U.S. citizens prefer Democratic control. The Congress is virtually immobilized by this unrepresentative faction in the Republican majority. This stranglehold on legislation hurts all the nation including us.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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