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The metaphorical swamp awaits.

The metaphorical swamp awaits.

John Donvan
Saturday, November 12, 2016

So now, the metaphorical swamp awaits the new landscaper. Donald Trump’s win demonstrates many things, one of which – according to these same pundits who spent the past year in Dewey-Defeats-Truman territory – is that the Trump shocker was intended to upend the status quo in Washington. That the public just wants to “throw the bums out.”

Curious, then, that in state after state, this same electorate decided to vote most of the “bums” right back in again. In overwhelming numbers, the incumbent members of Congress, established residents of the “swamp”, were elected to new terms. Right now, for example, I am looking at headlines like these: “All North Carolina Incumbents Keep Seats,” and “Incumbents Keep Their Seats in Five Tennessee House Races,” and “Colorado Incumbents Roll to Re-election.”

And this is to the House – the same House where, to put it mildly, the spirit of compromise has been deader than dead for years, and where, between the parties, there is almost no common ground to be found.

If this extreme polarization leads to ineffectiveness, and ineffectiveness is one of those poisons Trump supporters want drained from the swamp, how is it these folks almost always get to keep their jobs, year in and year out?

On Monday, we will be discussing that question, and exploring the sources of our extreme state of political polarization, when we debate this motion:

Gerrymandering is Destroying the Political Center

And in case you don’t remember from civics class, gerrymandering is the game both parties play: the manipulation of the political map to gin up the numbers of Democratic or Republican voters inside a given Congressional candidate’s district, with the aim of creating an electorate tilted to one party or the other. Holders of these safe seats, in theory, never face a serious challenge from the other party. And in theory also, they face no obligation to play to the center to get elected – and so they don’t.

So is that a key driver in the demise of the political center, or does the cause lie, more significantly, elsewhere? Our debaters will take opposing sides on this question, which just became more urgent this week – with the election of a divisive candidate who pledged, in his victory speech, to bring the American people back together.

We’ll see how that goes. Meanwhile, we’re going to George Washington University for this one. Which means we’ll be debating in DC. So, bring your metaphorical bug spray. Wear your metaphorical boots.  But cast your real vote here.

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