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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Congressional Elections Are Fixed In America

Dave Makkar
CFO Prachi's Fina...
India with multi party system there to fix an election or all elections for Parliament from a particular state  is a very difficult and expansive task. In India one needs booth capturing, fake voters, gunmen, money and goodies to voters, reservations in jobs, classification under schedule cast/tribe or backward class, Religious Fatwas (dictates) in favor of a particular candidate  and buying off some of the opposing candidates; to fix elections.
In America fixing an Election for House of Representatives with 435 Seats for a particular state is a piece of cake because of 2 party system. All you need is meeting between both party representatives to negotiate for constituencies in that particular state. This is the only country where the Members of the House of Representatives can virtually pick their voters every 10 years under the so called re-districting in hard bargains among both party representatives to create Democrat or Republican Safe constituencies in a particular state. That is the reason America has Blue (Democrat) and Red (Republican) states that makes it extremely difficult in Senate races to change the composition of US Senate with hundred Senators; 2 Senators from each 50 States of America.  
Since both parties can pick their voters for House of Representatives that has created Carrier Politicians in America . 29 Representatives are in Congress for 30-56 yrs, 64 are for 20-29 yrs and 118 Representatives are in US Congress for 10-18 yrs. The oldest Representative is 89 yrs old Ralph Hall (R-TX) and is serving for over 31 years. Longest serving is 85 yrs old Rep John Dingell (D-MI) since last 56 years. By age he is tied with Roscoe Barlette (R-MD) in congress for more than 19 years. Both are followed by 83 yrs old John Conyers (D-Mi) who is in congress for more than 47 years. Then by 811/2 yrs old Bill Young (R-Fl) serving the Congress for over 41 years. In the 435 members House 10 members are 80+, 48 members 70+ and 230 members are 60+ yrs old.
Since 1996 writer is the resident of New Jersey the world's most corrupt and racist state that is legally corrupt and legally racist. This is the only state in the world in  8,000 sq miles for 8.5 mil residents that has 1 State government, 587 local governments for 566 racially segregated towns with over 9,000 Elected Politicians and over 500,000 employees. It is represented by 13 Representatives and 2 Senators in US Congress. The writer has witnessed two Re-districting scams very closely one in 2001 and the other in 2011 to notice how Democrat or Republican safe constituencies are created for local, state and US House of Representatives elections.     
Re-districting that should be used to create more compititive Districts is used as a scam run by both parties since 1981 to ensure the winning of the incumbents belonging to both parties for another 10 years. They swap areas to make each others constituency more Democrat or Republican safe. This can safely be called "Incumbent Protection Plan" in which Republicans and Democrats both join together to make sure no incumbant lose his/her seat. After re-districting in 2002 Elections 7 Democrat won with an average of 74.5% and 6 Republicans won with 66.2% of the two party votes. These one-sided margins held through till 2010 barring a close contest in Dist 7 in 2006 and Dist 3 in 2010.  This shows if the partisan majority in a district is more than 55% or so there is almost Zero chance of a challanger winning the election or incumbent losing the election. 
In 2011 re-districting the Democrats and Republicans agreed to a deal that virtually protected all the incumbents barring one for the sacrificed district to cut down the number of districts to 12 from 13 because of population loss in New Jersey. In other words they settled for 6-6 split for the future 113TH US Congress rather than creating more competitive districts. 
It is a known fact that competitive districts would attract better candidates, bring more transparency and incentivize lawmakers to pay more attention to their constituents. Both parties collectively and individually does not believe in that, they believe their incumbents must have the right to chose their voters. That means if you are a Republican living in a Democrat district or vice versa you have to forget that you can get the Democrat incumbent out. If you are a Republican living in a Republican district your vote is irrelevant because it does not matter who wins. It means public opinion has no role to play even if they want to get rid of the incumbents. The only time incumbents can be defeated is during their own Party primaries only that too if they have become eye sore to their own party bosses. If the incumbent retires or die in office in that situation voters get a new choice.
U.S. Voting Rights Act and the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution guarantee the preservation of any Congressional districts in which a single minority group currently makes up a majority of the population. As a result, the African-American majority Dist 10 represented by Rep. Donald Payne (D) for last 23 years and the Hispanic majority Dist 13 represented by Rep. Albio Sires (D) since 2006 must be preserved as majority-minority districts. Re-districting Commission preserved them by picking population from surrounding areas to meet the equal population requirements with other districts. Donald Payne died in office early this year and his son Donald Payne Jr won the special election for his remaining term as well the primary for November election to preserve the legacy and incumbency of his father. He is sure to win in the November general elections and the same is true for Albio Sires (D) to win in his old Dist 13 re-Christian as Dist 8 now.
Minority groups represent almost 40% of New Jersey's population, but Sires and Payne are the only two minority representatives in New Jersey's current 13-member delegation. They will be the only 2 minority members of new Congress in 2012 from NJ.
Districts 2, 3, 4 under Republican incumbants and Dist 1 under a Democrat were virtually left alone to make sure no incumbent from either party loses in coming elections. Dist 3 of first term rookie Jon Runyan (R) was rather made more safe by removing Cherry Hill, a Democratic stronghold from his district and replacing it with the predominantly Republican Brick. The Democrats were planning to seriously challenge Runyan in 2012 but now no more.
The only choice commission had was to merge remaining 7 Districts into 6 in order to reduced the number of Congressional districts from 13 to 12.  So Democrat Dist 6, 8, 9 & 12 and Republican 5, 7 & 11 were redistricted to come up with 6 Districts. The old Dist 13 of Albio Sires (D) was also re-named as Dist 8.
Incumbent Rep Steven Rothman (D) Dist 9 became the victim of re-districting Scam by both parties. In this Scam pitting an incumbent Democrat against an incumbent Republican is seen more unfair than pushing two incumbent Democrats or two Republicans into the same district. Rothman ended up in a rare incumbent vs. incumbent fight with fellow Dist 8 Rep. Bill Pascrell (D) for the redrawn district 9 in June this year. According to media reports the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee offered Rothman a cool $2 million to challenge Republican Scott Garrett for the control of Dist 5 in November Elections. Rothman turned it down. Instead, he decided to challenge Bill Pascrell in his old district, or what's left of it in the primary. Unfortunately for him he lost to Pascrell. The win of Bill Pascrell from Dist 9 in Nov. elections is a forgone conclusion.
The writer lives in Congressional District 7. Since 1914 Dist 7 Congressional Seat has always been in the Republican Column barring 1975 to 1981 when it was held by a Democrat Andrew Maguire from Ridgewood . In Nov. 1980 he was defeated by a fellow resident Marge Roukema a Republican. After that only time a serious challenge has ever been given by a Democrat was in 2006 by very popular Assembly Deputy Speaker Linda Stender a carrier politician since 1988. The 2 term incumbent Republican Mike Ferguson won his 3rd term by less than 3000 votes. In 2008 Stender was defeated by current Republican Congressman Lance by a wide margin of almost 30,000 votes. In 2010 Lance defeated Democrat Ed Potosnak by 33,000 votes by re-establishing the Republican style winning of this district by double digit margins of 10-18%. Voters' turnout in this District has been around 280,000 since 2001.
In last 2 decades Democrats have damaged their own chances of winning the District 7 forever; by annexing pro Democrats towns during re-districting from Dist. 7 to merge them with Dist 12 a Democrat stronghold to make it more safe for sitting Democrat Rush Holt. In 2001 re-districting areas of the former 7th district such as Somerset in Franklin Township (Somerset County) historically Democratic stronghold were moved into the 12th district to shore up the Democratic incumbent Rush Holt's hold. Again in 2011 re-districting Edison and Woodbridge Democrat stronghold area has been moved out of Dist 7 to make it more pro Republican by adding Republican towns like Millburn and Short Hill from Democrat stronghold Essex County.
Even for the New Jersey 's 40 legislative districts represented by 40 state Senators and 80 Assemblyman either they are Democrat safe or Republican Safe. Practically all of them are represented by carrier politicians protected under "Incumbent Protection Plan". Only two District 12 and 14 saw an average margin of victory for candidates under 10% during the past 4 elections and can be called competitive districts.
The re-districting scam for state and US House elections has divided America into Red (Republican) & Blue (Democrat) states. New Jersey has not elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since Clifford Case in 1972 and last voted for a Republican presidential candidate in 1988.The US Senate with 100 members has the same sad story of carrier politicians. 27 Senators are 70-88 yrs old and 37 Senators are 60-69 yrs old. The oldest is 88 years old Senator Lautenberg a Democrat from Blue state New Jersey . 8 Senators between the age of 72-88 yrs old are serving from 31-49 yrs, 16 Senators for over 20 and 23 Senators are serving for over 10 years. 87 years old Daniel Invoye a Democrat from Hawaii has the distinction of longest serving Senator for 49 yrs in the current Senate.
Some of the America 's founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Madison were strongly in favor of Term Limits for US Senate and House seats. Looking at the sorry state of current 112TH US Congress with Carrier Politicians they must be crying in their graves why they never imposed Congressional term limits. Why they never addressed a potential problem of creating Democrat or Republican safe district in a particular state. The current breed of Politicians in both parties are never going to address the problems of Carrier Politicians and creation of safe Democrat or Republican districts. May be the time has come for the American public to wake up and reform Electoral process as well as Campaign financing laws in America.   
Dave Makkar

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