My latest piece for Al Jazeera argues that one factor (among many others, to be sure) contributing to the breakdown of the American national government is the heightened virulence of partisan gerrymandering following the 2010 elections and the sweeep of many states by conservative Republicans. The November general elections are basically irrelevant in most of the House districts, as the "real" election takes place in primaries. What I suggest is adopting mandatory multi-member districts, with proportional representation, in states with more than six representatives. Congress could pass such legislation tomorrow, with no constitutional problem. But they won't, because members, both Republican and Democratic, who benefit from the systemic status quo, are not about to change things drastically. As I have done several times before, I quote John P. Roche's important variation of Lord Acton's dictum: "Power corrupts, and the prospect of losing power corrupts absolutely." Thus the need for a national mass movement, composed of Reputlicans and Democrats alike, committed to producing a more democratic (and republican, as in "republican form of government") way of electing Representatives.
I am well aware of the arguments that demographic "clustering" is at least as important as malevolently partisan gerrymandering, and I'm sure there is some truth to those arguments. A lot of "packing" takes place "naturally." But the principal point is that our present system of exclusively single-member districts means that the "value" of one's individual vote, save as an item of symbolic expression, is increasingly a function of where one happens to live (and what district one has been assigned to).