News. Debate. Community. Levers for a better democracy.

High court to voters: You deal with partisan gerrymandering.

High court to voters: You deal with partisan gerrymandering.

For those who rank political muscle-flexing in electoral mapmaking among the most menacing threats to democracy, the Supreme Court has provided an array of suggestions:

Convince your self-aggrandizing state legislators to cool it. Look for protection in the courts of your own state. Persuade Congress to set a national rule that politicians cannot draw election boundaries, or else come up with a national standard for partisan excesses in setting the lines. Or orchestrate statewide ballot initiatives turning the congressional and state legislative cartographic powers over to independent experts.

In short, the justices said Thursday, do anything you like except look for us to referee the limits of partisan gerrymandering; the Constitution does not contain an explanation for how to do it, and so we are not going to.

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First debate: Democracy reform by the numbers

Did we miss the question about voting rights? How about gerrymandering? Anyone care about election security?


In the first Democratic presidential primary debate, those and other democracy reform issues took a back seat to "kitchen table" topics such as the economy, health care and immigration.

Despite the moderators' lack of interest in the candidates' democracy reform proposals, some of the presidential hopefuls snuck in tidbits anyway.

Here's a by-the-numbers takeaway from the first debate (from The Fulcrum angle):

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The question to ask in 2020

It's a shame that no one will ask the candidates a single question on the topic most needing discussion – the state of our democracy, writes Michael V. Murphy, who runs the FixUs for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

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RepresentUs acquired 8,000 signatures on a petition asking Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to keep working on a "revolving door" bill. Paula Barkan, Austin chapter leader of RepresentUs, handed the petition to Brandon Simon, Cruz's Central Texas regional director, on July 31.

Cruz, Ocasio-Cortez still discussing revolving door bill

Remember that tweet exchange in May between Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the one where they discussed bipartisan legislation to ban former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists?

To recap: Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her support for legislation banning the practice in light of a report by the watchdog group Public Citizen, which found that nearly 60 percent of lawmakers who recently left Congress had found jobs with lobbying firms. Cruz tweeted back, extending an invitation to work on such a bill. Ocasio-Cortez responded, "Let's make a deal."

The news cycle being what it is, it's easy to forget how the media jumped on the idea of the Texas Republican and the New York Democrat finding common ground on a government ethics proposal. Since then, we've collectively moved on — but not everyone forgot.

The government reform group RepresentUs recently drafted a petition asking Cruz and Ocasio-Cortez to follow through on their idea, gathering more than 8,000 signatures.

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Adults of all ages agree: There's little confidence in elected leaders

But in general, young adults have a lot more trust issues than their elders

Sixty percent of young adults in the United States believe other people "can't be trusted," according to a recent Pew Research survey, which found that younger Americans were far more likely than older adults to distrust both institutions and other people. But adults of all ages did agree on one thing: They all lack confidence in elected leaders.

While united in a lack of confidence, the cohorts disagreed on whether that's a major problem. The study found that young adults (ages 18-29) were less likely than older Americans to believe that poor confidence in the federal government, the inability of Democrats and Republicans to work together, and the influence of lobbyists and special interest groups were "very big problems."

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