In state capitals, the triple-impact of term limits, 2010’s political swing to the Tea Party right and the scourge of redistricting are poised to take a devastating toll, leaving state legislatures filled with the largest class of inexperienced ideological lawmakers in years. Nationwide, one-half or more are projected to have less than two years experience.
Moreover, as lawmakers are forced to step away from their severe campaign rhetoric and start governing, many will turn to the people with the longest institutional memories: lobbyists who are aligned with their partisan viewpoints.
Lost in this scenario, which has been discussed in magazines and Web sites catering to state legislators, is the art of compromise to serve the public.
“The biggest thing over the years has been the change in statesmanship,” Colorado legislator-turned-lobbyist Gayle Berry recently told the Denver Post. “Some of the lawmakers who had worked with governors in a different party worked in a more bipartisan manner.”
Berry should know: she’s a former Republican state representative.
Perhaps the greatest negative impact comes from redistricting.
Everybody knows the GOP, led by Tea Party activists in many states, swept 2010’s federal and state elections. Control of the U.S. House went to right-wing Republicans and ideologues such as Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Florida’s Rick Scott were elected governor. Another result of that sweep was the GOP taking control of the once-a-decade redistricting process, where state legislative and federal congressional district lines are drawn.
“They could rig the game in their favor, and have already drawn seats to their advantage in what were once traditionally competitive states,” said Shira Toeplitz, who covers redistricting and political campaigns for Roll Call.
“Democrats chose a bad cycle to get wiped out,” said Nathan Gonzales, deputy editor of the Rothenberg Political Report. “You just don’t want to get wiped out in an election year ending in a zero because of the implications for redistricting.”
In state-after-state, GOP lawmakers carved out new and oddly shaped Congressional and state legislative districts to bolster Republican candidates’ chances. These steps deepened the partisan gains and divisions in many state legislatures and their congressional delegations.
Some of the partisan gerrymandering was “downright ugly,” Toeplitz said. The Republicans were particularly effective in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, Gonzales said.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: Why America’s Extreme Politics Will Likely Get Even Worse | | AlterNet.