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RIP, anti-gerrymandering crusader Ellen Tauscher

Ellen Tauscher, who died Monday at age 67, had been a political survivor in more ways than one: She succeeded in negotiating major international nuclear arms treaties for the Obama administration even while battling esophageal cancer. Before that she regularly found ways to wield influence in Congress despite publicly opposing the most powerful fellow Democrat in the California delegation, Nancy Pelosi. And she won seven House terms representing suburban tracts east of San Francisco despite several GOP efforts to get rid of her.

It was that experience that prompted the last public service effort of Tauscher's life – creation of You Draw the Lines 2021, a non-profit advocating for the creation of independent, nonpartisan commissions to draw all the congressional boundaries in the nation. She described the partisan-driven redistricting of the House as nothing short of as "constitutional crisis."

The Founding Fathers "did not foresee that it would be possible to create congressional districts and assign them to parties where the person in the seat is fungible and the party owns that seat for 10 years during the time between redistrictings," she told the Los Angeles Times in 2015. "That's why I think you have such tremendous voter apathy, why you have people believe their vote doesn't matter and the sense that it's all rigged."

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