Editor's Note: On February 6, we asked BlueOregon readers to suggest progressive ideas that the next Oregon Legislature should enact. Over the next several weeks, we'll post some of these ideas here - and ask you to discuss them. Good idea? Bad idea? Any suggestions?
The one reform that would have the biggest impact on politics in Oregon and the nation as a whole would be redistricting reform.
Currently, most states allow some combination of the state legislature, governor, and secretary of state to create legislative districts. This creates a high stakes battle for control of these branches of government every ten years, in order to control the redistricting process and gerrymander more districts and/or safer districts for your own party. This increases extremism by allowing a greater number of candidates to get elected to safe seats where the real election is in the party primary, and also decreases the number of competitive seats where either party has a good chance of winning.
Perversely, if a party creates too many safe seats for its own incumbents, it risks also creating too many seats that are safe or that lean towards the other party. This rewards party incumbents at the expense of the party as a whole. It also promotes partisanship by electing a lot more folks than normal that can win party primaries but would have no chance at winning in a competitive general election.
Redistricting should be mostly a technocratic process, where districts are created according to natural geographic and community criteria, without attempts to game the system in favor of one party or another. It should be done by technocrats and computers as much as possible, with oversight of an equally weighted multi-party commission.
This would make more elections more competitive, and make it more likely that the legislature's makeup accurately reflects the people's will.
[If you have your own original progressive idea to propose, do it here: "There oughta be a law."]