To my despair, I have learned that my neighborhood in Fairlawn, which is a few minutes away from Akron, is in the Eleventh Congressional District. That means my vote will be dumped into the new boundaries that include Euclid, East Cleveland, Shaker Heights and Cleveland. My congresswoman will be Marcia Fudge, a Democrat, the former mayor of Warrensville Heights. I'm sure she is a competent representative. But I live in Fairlawn, some distance from the bulk of her constituents. Excuse me if as a voter I feel isolated from the crowd. Excuse me again if I say the Republicans responsible for butchering the new congressional districts couldn't have cared less about the relationship between the People's House on Capitol Hill and me. Am I not a people?
Did I say People's House? Defining people has taken some strange turns this political season. Mitt Romney insisted that corporations are people. And the gang in Columbus that isolated my neighborhood in an alien Cleveland people zone was greedily at work in building a still greater GOP force in Congress that already boasts of 12 of the state's 16 congressional seats.
Their math is telling. May we conclude that three out of four Ohioans are Republicans even though the state went to Barack Obama in 2008?
A little history of this ridiculous scheme: When I arrived in Summit County more than four decades ago , there was but one congressman, Bill Ayers, a Republican. He was ousted by Democrat John Seiberling in 1970. To no avail, the local Republican front office spent many restless nights trying to figure out how to win back the county.
It didn't get any easier in 1987 when Seiberling retired and turned the seat over to Tom Sawyer, the city's Democratic mayor. After more restless nights, the local and State GOP decided the best way to rid the county of Sawyer after 15 years was to carve up his district, pitting him against Tim Ryan, of Niles, in the Democratic primary. It was a no-win challenge to Sawyer with the eastern part of the county dumped into Ryan-leaning territory. The county has now evolved into three congressional districts with Fudge, Ryan and Republican Steve LaTourette (a bit of the northern patch of the county).
It's a mess from the Master Carvers of Columbus. (There was a moment or two when I thought my neighborhood would end up in Toronto).
Ah. but others have taken note of this villainous handiwork. Voters First, set up by the League of Women Voters, has filed petitions with the Secretary of State - more than 430,000 signatures - to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to create a non-partisan citizens commission to draw up district boundaries. I hope it works , but at least I am now assured that there are 430,000 others in this a state who care about fairer representatation as much as I do.
UPDATE: Thanks to a reader, I now can tell you that the goulash called Summit County congressional districts is even more tasteless. The county actually has four congressmen - four! I have overlooked Democratic Rep. Betty Sutton, which ended up with a horribly malformed district zigzagging south across part of the county from Lorain to Green. How did my new district escape Toronto? I stand corrected.
UPDATE NO. 2: A Republican called to inform me that there were four congressmen with bits of Summit County in 1972 when Democrats drew the lines. The one that escaped me was a single township assigned to the late Rep. John Ashbrook. So I must ask: Is there anyone out there who can report five?