U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8th) says he believes the United States doesn’t have a functioning democracy at the moment and that the country’s divisiveness isn’t going to change anytime soon.
Moran, a former Alexandria mayor and current
city resident, met with the Del Ray Citizens Association for about an hour Monday
night as he and the rest of Congress were in the midst of working toward a deal
to end the government shutdown.
On Wednesday evening, Congress passed legislation to temporarily resolve the shutdown and debt-ceiling crisis, returning federal employees to work after a 16-day furlough.
Speaking to the DRCA, Moran said he believes the increasing political divisiveness can be credited to three factors—gerrymandered districts, unbridled corporate political expenditures and slanted media.
Moran said districts no longer represent communities but instead “a scientific process used to determine how people are going to vote.”
When those algorithms are applied to congressional redistricting, Moran said the districts “don’t reflect trends or the demographics of our communities.”
He said both Democrats and Republicans have used the process to their advantage, and added that 60 percent of the country’s governors were Republicans at the time of the decennial Census.
Moran also cited unrestricted political contributions from corporations—a product of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision Moran said he strongly disagreed with—as a further complication, increasing the political influence of deep-pocketed companies and associations from specific industries.
Moran also said the polarization of media has allowed citizens to become more insular and enabled people to live in “ideological echo chambers.”
“FOX clearly leans to the right, MSNBC leans to the left. … Most of radio is conservative. You can live in your ideological comfort zone and never be challenged,” he said. “… I don’t think we have a functioning Democracy right now. Now, the 2016 election may reflect a changed electorate.”
Moran predicted a swing to the left in upcoming elections.
“I think we got so far to the right, the pendulum is going to swing,” he said. “There’s going to be more interest in protecting the environment, schools and infrastructure. … It's not certain, but I’m old enough to see a number of those swings and anticipate another.”