On James Madison and gerrymandering

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James Madison is often considered one of the fathers of modern American conservatism. He is also closely and oddly connected to the issue of the day: gerrymandered congressional districts.

As Thomas Jefferson’s closest ally and most loyal student, Madison championed the ideals of a restrained government with diffuse power and a utopian society that was blind to partisanship and “factionalism” as he called it.

In making his case for the new republic, he and (his soon-to-be arch rival) Alexander Hamilton warned us against this potential threat to the new republic.

Despite its flaws, he argued, this nation would survive, but we must be wary of factionalism. “Factionalism” is the notion that someone would put his own special interests above that of the nation.  He feared, almost to a point of obsession, partisanship and self-serving political motivations that pitted one group against another.

One would therefore assume that there is some grave spinning at Montpelier this week.

I can’t help but laugh at the irony over the fact that the very term “gerrymander” derives from a Congressional map championed and signed by Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry. The map was drawn to protect his allies in Congress.

Factionalism at its finest.

Oh, and by the way, the governor also had the distinction of serving as Vice-President of the United States.

He served under a man named James Madison.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.