I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

FEC on the Injured Reserve Bench

This morning we see a rather curious complaint from our friend Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters, regarding the fact that we no longer have a functional Federal Election Commission.
The Federal Election Commission will not issue rulings for the foreseeable future, but only advisory opinions. The FEC no longer has enough directors to meet its quorum requirements, and thanks to a standoff between Congress and George Bush, it cannot enforce federal election laws:

Down to two members and unable to muster a quorum, the Federal Election Commission has decided to offer advice instead of binding decisions on questions from political campaigns.

Congress has refused to act on Bush's first nominee to the panel, Hans von Spadkovsky. Spadkovsky served on the Civil Rights Commission and annoyed Democrats by supporting a Texas redistricting plan that put Democrats at a disadvantage. Spadkovsky also supports photo-ID checks at election precincts, as passed by the state of Georgia. The Democrats want to make an example of Spadkovsky, and Bush refuses to withdraw his nomination -- and no others will come for the other three vacancies until Spadkovsky gets his hearing.

I was going to just enter a comment over at CapQ, but this is a subject near and dear to my heart. There are two points where I take issue with this, and I'll start with the more obvious one. I know that Ed is good friends with John Hinderaker at Powerline, so allow me to quote something that John said over and over and over again following the elections of 2002 and 2004.
Elections have consequences.

What does this mean? When you are the president and your party controls Congress, you can pretty much appoint whoever you want. The old "advice and consent" clause has warped over the years, but the upshot is that, in the above circumstances, the minority party really has no option but the filibuster to stop appointments, and even then they do so at their own peril, facing accusations of being obstructionists.

However, that changed in 2006. Voters gave the mantle of Congressional control to the opposition party and the dynamic of appointments changes when that happens. Spadkovsky is clearly far too odious of a candidate to suit Democratic tastes, and with good reason. There are three open seats to be filled, and by refusing to nominate anyone for any of those seats until Spadkovsky is approved, this fit of presidential pique puts the blame for the collapse of the FEC squarely on the shoulders of George W. Bush. He knows he needs to work with the new majority for appointments, but he is unwilling to move one inch toward compromise. Thus, we have no FEC.

The subject of Spadkovsky brings me to my second and far more important point. Democratic anger at this candidate is, as Ed points out, based largely on his endorsement of the gerrymandering of Texas. Rightly so. What we need on the FEC is people who will address a problem that is long overdue for redress in this country. And this is a problem that extends far beyond the borders of the Lone Star State and is in no way a "Republican problem" or a "Democratic problem." The gerrymandering of Texas was certainly bad, but no worse than the distortions of the electoral map which torture the layout of California. (And have for many years.) By the way... have you ever looked at the map of our Congressional districts here in New York State? There are shapes in there that would send MC Escher off for a long lie down in a dark room.

One of the chief reasons that we seem to get stuck with the same old candidates for Congress over and over is that the maps are rigged to keep incumbents in office and suppress change. The technology exists today to fix this rapidly and outside of partisan influence. I watched a demonstration of one proposed software application which would correct it based on the most recent census data. Knowing not only the population levels, but also the distribution, we can lay out each state, starting in one corner, and generate roughly even shaped districts encompassing the correct number of residents. What a radical, refreshing idea, no?

There is an opportunity right now for Bush and the Democrats to reach out to each other and agree to just scrap the existing members, reject the status quot, and pick some new faces with fresh thinking and eliminate the gerrymandered mess we have across the country right now. Of course, since this proposal would rely on the support of the very people who most benefit from the current, warped, dysfunctional mess, I'm not holding my breath.