The treadmill of democracy

By By Chronicle Senior Staff

By Chronicle Senior Staff

In a move that is becoming more of a rarity in U.S. democracy, thousands of people marched through the streets of Salt Lake City on Sunday to express their views on the current nationwide move toward immigration reform.

Protesters have walked in several big cities in recent weeks-Los Angeles, Phoenix and Detroit, among others-but it seems all their efforts are getting them nowhere, and they might as well be marching in place.

The activists should, however, be commended for at least coercing our national politicians to talk about the issue.

But the problem plaguing the political climate of our nation extends far beyond immigration reform. The real issue at hand is that politicians generally do not reflect-and don’t need to reflect-their constituencies.

The issue is manifest in the immigration reform bill before the United States Senate. The Senate showed initial signs of bipartisan support that could have led to tangible results last week before cooperation faltered and quickly spiraled into yet more partisan finger pointing.

Our politicians, the people whom we should be selecting to reflect our views in policymaking, are failing us virtually across the board. They are transforming issues that could potentially affect us all into polarized partisan battles that leave no room for a middle ground.

Politicians generally feel more urgency in serving the desires of their party than the needs of their voters. There is a popular myth in our nation that the voters select the politicians, but today the reverse is true. In most states, politicians from the majority party approve voting districts that have been precisely calculated and drawn to benefit their party, thereby actively selecting their voters-voters who they are sure will re-elect them in November. This redistricting occurs once every 10 years after the census-or twice in the case of Texas as per the request of Tom DeLay.

Because of redistricting, elections are often decided much earlier than November. In the midst of the immigration reform and political scandals in Washington, D.C., quiet caucus meetings are occurring throughout the country in which a small, powerful few select the candidates they want to represent their views-conservative or liberal.

The caucuses virtually always select the man or woman who displays the most extreme passion toward the values that the caucus’ members believe their party should address.

Their candidate then proceeds to generally uncompetitive November elections in which each district elects candidates of the same party year after year.

Many politicians have adopted the idea that as an incumbent in state and congressional offices, one must either die or be involved a heinous scandal to lose a re-election nod.

A political system that allows a select few to pick our representatives and forces politicians to extreme sides of the political spectrum will inevitably fail to serve the people.

There are underlying problems inherent in our democracy today-and those issues must be reformed to effectively protest and make specific demands of our local and national representatives.