Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Population and Political Influence

A reader, speculating about federal political officials embracing the Rust Belt immigration initiative, sent along a link to a blog post about disappearing congressional districts:

After the 2000 Census, Illinois dropped from 20 to 19 Congressional districts, and Rep. David Phelps, a Democrat from the southern tip of Illinois, got the shaft, as his district was carved up between three different Congressional districts (the ones represented by Reps. Costello, Shimkus and our own Tim Johnson).

Politicians fighting for the life of their seats in Congress might make a good target for innovative Rust Belt programs. My assessment is that most elected officials feel helpless in the face of dehabilitating population loss. That's why we continue to get the song and dance about keeping residents from leaving the region despite the numbers pointing out the problem of weak in-migration. Furthermore, the status quo isn't bad for everyone, as the debate about Pennsylvania's Case Law makes plain.

Right now, Rust Belt politics is all about maintaining your piece of the shrinking pie. I don't see sorely needed change coming from the top unless there is an angle of patronage.

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