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Gerrymander

I have always viewed people who discuss politics in a business environment as being a bit annoying.  I truly do not care if someone is a Republican or a Democrat.  What I do care about is if they do their job and how they get along with other people in the company.

However, today, with a government shutdown looming and for a brief moment, I will join the ranks of those who discuss politics and make a “political statement”.

I believe that the single most destructive group of laws passed by politicians on both sides of the aisle relate to Gerrymandering.  For those of you not familiar with the concept of Gerrymandering…it is the process of setting electoral districts.  This is where you look at the social and political demographics of a region and you redraw who is voting in each region according to “like preferences”.

On paper it sounds good…I get to vote for people who share my interests.  It assures that I am represented by someone who also believes in my interests.  It might mean that people from a predominantly Catholic region might have a Catholic representative…or maybe an area that dislikes gun control can vote for a representative who also dislikes gun control.

But there is a problem.  One of the powers of a good democracy is that our elected officials have to strike a balance to meet the needs of all of a nations constituents rather than just their own.  The problem with having all of the same social/political demographics in a voting district is that diversity is lost.  It means that if one region has extreme political or economic views, the elected representative has to adhere to those views or risk their next election.

The result is what we have today.

  • Representatives who have to make constituents with very particular interests happy rather than being forced to find the compromise in any situation.
  • Pandering to the lowest common denominator rather than following the greater good.
  • Focusing on winner take all rather than we can all win together.
  • Ideology above diversity.

So why does this discussion belong on a website that covers business issues?

The United States (arguably the greatest country in the world) is moving towards another moment in history where we will fail to shine.  Where a group of elected officials will move us ever closer to economic ruin over ideology and religion rather than recognize that politics is really about compromise and making tough choices that keep the economy going.  A good economy gives enables us with freedom to buy things like cars, guns, food and common necessities.  It also provides fuel for education, arts, business and yes…even religion.  A poor economy undermines all of it.

In other words, our Congress is on their way to making choices that are bad for business.

Let us all hope that our elected officials listen to fewer of THEIR constituents and pay attention to the needs of ALL constituents.

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