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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The politics of randomness


The brouhaha over legislative reapportionment in general and York County in particular got me to thinking elsewhere. The slicing and dicing is peculiar but not more weird than the usual gerrymandering that both parties engage in. Well, a little more: The amount of territory changing hands—going to a different existing legislature seems odd to me. But, whatever.
The transplanting of a Philadelphia district into the south-central and -western tier of the county turned out to be messy, but isn’t likely to result in any permanent harm to the constituents there.
No, what catches my eye is the lack of governmental experience manifested by those seeking the new office. Furthermore, it seems to be a continuation of a trend. (I don’t know if it is just here or all over—maybe a reader can enlighten us.)
Only one of those so far coming forward has been an elected official in PA. There was a time when a would-be politician would start out by serving on a local board/council (a Mike Waugh) or school board (Ron Miller). [Now it seems to work more in the reverse; e.g., Peck Foster who went from the state legislature to township supervisor.]  
The county parties have exacerbated the phenomenon of people jumping in feet first without paying their dues. The Republican Party in York County has been particularly remiss in not paying attention to local politics while pushing novices into nomination for higher offices.
I think this is a troubling drift. Watching politicians operate at the local level provides both the official and the electorate with experience and invaluable knowledge not otherwise learned.

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