“Both rural and urban issues”

A quick comment on the newly-released official Utah congressional redistricting map that cuts Salt Lake County between three separate districts. The Salt Lake Tribune reports on the perceived movites of the Republican-dominanted legislature:

Democrats say that “pizza slice” plan is an attempt by Republicans to dilute their votes in Salt Lake County and increase odds that the GOP can win all congressional districts. Republicans say instead that it will ensure that all members of Congress represent both rural and urban issues.

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/52731658-90/behind-caucus-closed-democratic.html.csp?page=1

The Republican justification that all of Utah’s congressional delegation should represent both rural and urban areas is somewhat disingenuous. It’s the exact same argument that they made ten years ago when they split Salt Lake County up for the current map. They’re simply trying to gerrymander Utah’s lone Democrat, Jim Matheson, out of his House seat.

The argument would have more credibility if we had a proportional representation system in the United States. In PR systems, representatives are elected to represent the entire country instead of a smaller geographical district. As a result, PR representatives tend to look out for the diverse interests of the national as a whole as opposed to a smaller constituency. In the U.S., however, we elect representatives to look out for the interests of our smaller local communities. In such a case, it makes sense (to me, at least) to group similar communities together in congressional districts. It makes it easier for the representative to focus on specializing on the needs of his/her community, and it makes it so that the interests of more members of the community will be represented in the national legislature.

As it stands, this is going to result in lower-quality representation for the unfortunate Democrats in central Utah.

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