As regular readers of this blog know, Morton Marcus (who comments here from time to time) is a longtime friend with whom I co-authored a recent book on women’s rights, “From Property to Partner.”
Morton also writes a statewide newspaper column, primarily focused on data about Indiana, and occasionally comparing the actual activities of our dreadful legislature with his opinions about what that body ought to be doing. A recent column was so on target, I decided to share those recommendations. (Not that our supermajority Republican legislative overlords will pay the slightest bit of attention–they’re too busy micromanaging local government, destroying public education, pandering to the gun lobby, and imposing “Christian” behavioral restrictions on Hoosiers.)
The day before yesterday, you got Gulley, today you get Marcus.
The first of Morton’s recommendations was focused on legislative operations, which is sort of “inside baseball,” but important. He advocates releasing legislators to “act without the discipline of the Caucus. Let’s make the bold assumption that our 150 elected legislators are grownups. They can make their own decisions without the dictates of a repressive party leadership fully inebriated on the power of a super-majority of automatons.”
That will happen when pigs fly–or when we elect actual grownups.
Morton’s second recommendation–passage of independent redistricting– hits at the very center of Indiana’s continuing dysfunctions. Getting rid of gerrymandering would allow voters to choose their representatives; now, as sentient Hoosiers know, those representatives choose their voters. Gerrymandering is an absolutely wonderful mechanism for vote suppression–if your vote isn’t going to count, why cast it?
Morton also points out that an independent redistricting process would “likely rationalize districts such that two adjacent House districts would constitute one Senate district. No House districts would be divided.” As he notes, “Currently the Senate and the House district maps are independent of each other. It affords chaos and cover for the ambitions of individuals who seek lifetime membership in the General Assembly.”
His third recommendation hits on something else I’ve long advocated (there’s a reason we’ve been friends so long; we have similar, albeit not always congruent, views on the issues). He advocates adoption of the Maine Electoral College allocation rules.
Now the winner of the popular vote in Indiana gets all of the electoral votes in a presidential election. Under the system used in Maine, a notoriously left-wing coastal state, the winner of the statewide popular vote gets two electoral votes. The winner of each congressional district gets the one electoral vote of that district. No Constitutional amendment is needed for this move toward a more equitable system.
In 2020, instead of all 11 Indiana electoral votes going to the Repulsive candidate, that person would have received nine electoral votes and two such votes would have gone to the party that is Bidin’ its time.
(My apologies to those unfamiliar with the Gershwin songbook and who know only Taylor Swift lyrics.)
Morton also wants legislative study committees that would consider legislation reducing the number of townships in each county, and the number of counties in the states. (There are 92 counties in Indiana, in case you are wondering; California–somewhat larger– has 58).
Why should Warren, Fountain, Parke and Vermillion not be joined into one or two counties? Perhaps Jasper and Newton counties should be returned to their former singularity. Let’s not neglect Blackford with Jay, Ohio with Dearborn or Switzerland.
I would miss the detailed data on each separate area, but my fetish is not the concern of the state. Likewise, cost cutting should not be the dominant objective, but rather improving service to citizens in line with the structure of society in the 21st century rather than the 19th century.
This last recommendation recalls that of the bipartisan Kernan-Shepard Commission, convened by then-Governor Mitch Daniels, that examined the operations of Indiana government and recommended merging or otherwise eliminating a number of the 1008 townships that each pay township boards and trustees and the expenses of trustee offices–artifacts of a time when reaching the county seat via horseback took half a day. As I wrote back in 2011, the Commission had the temerity to suggest that–in the age of the internet and the absence of virtually all of the other tasks with which those townships had originally been tasked– we should rethink them…
As members of that Commission discovered–and as Morton, a longtime Hoosier, clearly knows–Indiana legislators don’t “re-think.” Most of the time, they don’t really think in the first place.Comments