Sham elections, debt relief and immoral televisionThough I don't read The New York Times on a regular basis, it did have a few interesting articles this weekend.
The first was an opinion piece by Nicholas Kristof entitled 'No More Sham Elections.' Now before you write this off as another round of liberal whining about John Kerry's loss, it has nothing much to do with the presidential election.
He remarks on the uncompetitiveness of elections across the country. In Arkansas, 75 percent of state legislative races this year were uncontested by either the Republicans or by the Democrats. The same was true of 73 percent of the seats in Florida, 70 percent in South Carolina, 62 percent in New Mexico... And Congressional races were an embarrassment. Only seven incumbents in the House of Representatives lost their seats this month Four of which were in gerrymandered Texas districts.
The best solution he proposes is one I've advocated for a while: independent state electoral commissions should draw up electoral boundaries. Right now, this is done by partisan state legislatures. Sometimes, they're overtly biased in favor of one party (like in Texas). Other times, redistricting is overtly biased in favor of incumbents (Democratic Assemblymen and Republican Senators here in New York). Iowa was the first state to have the lines drawn by an independent commission; not surprisingly, they have the most competitive electoral races in the country.
He also proposes getting rid of the electoral college (as well as noting how close we came to actually having the House of Representatives elect the president). But I've already written on this issue.
The independent electoral commission would do the most good. Eliminating the electoral college, for all its evident merits, is highly unlikely in my lifetime.
This article remarks on how The world's leading industrial nations agreed Sunday to cancel 80 percent of the nearly $39 billion debt owed them by Iraq. The news article called it a critical step in rebuilding the country's devastated economy and an important precedent for its other creditors to follow.
It's interesting to wonder why this is such a great idea for Iraq, but some object to the same being done for African countries.
Bill Carter's article observed that the unsurprising revelation: Many Who Voted for 'Values' Still Like Their Television Sin.
Unsurprising because if only Kerry supporters or so-called liberals watched 'immoral' television shows, they wouldn't get high enough ratings to remain on the air.