Thursday, November 03, 2005
CommonCensus is a really neat project, and is yet another example of where I need to do more than just talk about my ideas.
The concept is that states and other political territories are very, very bad at truly representing what people in a region actually want. I personally identify with more northern and urban areas like Chicago but end up living in the middle of no where in particular where they want to kill all overseas production and will instigate riots if you even think of suggesting to place a ban on tobacco products in public spaces. I'm a little extreme since I'm a certified geek, but in a physical sense the same thing occurs. Someone in a South east Iowa might agree more with northern Missouri politics while someone an hour north might better associate with Chicago. Another hour north and off to the west they might be sympathetic to Minnesota policy and thats no minor difference.
If you look at state government there is very little they really regulate. Natural and public resources. fish and wildlife, agriculture, transportation, in some cases a limited influence on schools and other public service agencies (highway police, national guard), but more or less local issues slide down to counties and cities/towns while larger issues and matters of money go up.
Right now with the pretty lines someone started drawing back in the late 1700s aren't working as a political system. Take the few real functions of the state and break those up into geographically similar areas. The concerns of the DOT in the Mountainous portions of North Carolina have a lot more in common with the mountainous regions of Virginia than the costal regions of the state. Its literally the difference between preparing for an ice storm and a hurricane. The other state managed offices, like fish and wild life have similar differences. One might be worried with bears, the other with crabs, so why force an odd couple under the same roof? Its a waste of resources.
With natural resources taken care of that leaves a political mess, how to divide congress? Thats where commoncensus comes back into play. By plotting the community ties in an area you can come up with better districting, and while you'll never get over the Red Vs Blue Syndrome until people start remembering that this is not just a 2 party political system, you can help make sure that representatives in an area are more in tune with the beliefs of their constituents because you end up forcing the federal government to act more like a responsive, local government.
However, it won't take. There's far too much invested to simply drop the old system, and even if there wasn't, such a movement would need to put forth a heroic effort to educate most people about such a system, because unlike the states, its hard to talk about dynamic geopolitical influences
Right now the project is on its forth map, however the next one should be coming out soon (900 more people need to fill out the survey) so head on over to look at the current map and take the poll. While nothing will likely come out of it, in terms of food for thought, this is a nice big juicy steak.
For the politically uninterested there is a sports based sister project.
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