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Givens: Rethinking districting, how we vote
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With the 2010 census completed, our Congressional districts will be redrawn. You don't have to be a cynic to recognize the districts will be drawn to maintain the present political balance.

Answer this: Are our federal representatives an accurate representation of the population? Does Congress represent you and your desires well?

Many empires throughout history have risen and fallen. Many of these nations fall because of their own arrogance. Arrogance caused them to refuse to change in the face of a changing world. A nation must reform in the face of changing economic and political realities.

To this end, I would say that our system of representation is antiquated and the two-party system has failed. The founder John Adams was right to say, "There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution."

Was he wrong? I think not. Our two-party system not only doesn't accurately represent the voters, it has led to a media industry of division and anger. Entertainment news makes a fortune reducing complicated and important economic questions into small sound bites of us versus them.

More and more voters are only hearing that a person is a Democrat or Republican. From this they are assuming things about that person and their beliefs. Democrats are falsely portrayed as people who would sell out our nation to Muslim terrorists while taking guns away and creating a Communist America. Republicans are falsely portrayed as people who don't know how to read and want to cut all taxes on the wealthy while eliminating Social Security so they can laugh while the elderly starve due to their lack of personal responsibility in saving enough for retirement.

Perhaps worse, this entertainment news has even convinced many voters that people that disagree with them are actually an enemy as opposed to just other voters who see things differently. This attitude destroys the open debate and discussion necessary to maintain a free Republic.

Those dividing us and crushing discussion are the greatest threat to this nation. Just look at how the debt discussions have become so polarized.

We should use this time to rethink how we pick our representatives. Districts are themselves fictions. Our present system involves a system of party primary elections never laid out in the Constitution and the creation of districts that disenfranchise 30 percent to 45 percent of their voters. This results in a Congress pushed to extremes. Calling this system a "representative republic" is a bit deceptive.

I would suggest we eliminate primary elections and the system of representative districts. Elections for representatives should be statewide with all candidates on the same ballot with no party affiliation listed.

Under this system, let's say a state has 10 seats in the House of Representatives. During the election there might be 30 people running. The voters can vote for 10 of them. The 10 with the most votes become our representatives.

People could still join political parties for networking and support. Having said that, with 20 or 30 people on the ballot and no party listed next to their name, voters would have to research the candidates more, so there should hopefully be less voting for only a party.

Let's face it. If a voter doesn't already know a candidate's party affiliation, he or she probably doesn't know enough to vote. This system also eliminates the primary system, which automatically favors the most extreme candidates of each party.

This needs to be done nationwide. California is known for its liberal representatives but the state is quite politically diverse. Ronald Reagan was governor of California. Orange County is a major conservative stronghold.

Just as liberal voters throughout the South are being denied representation conservative voters elsewhere face the same fate.

Brandon Givens is a Hall County resident and frequent columnist.

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