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Ohio Northern University Law Review


Note: This essay is a response to Daniel Tokaji, The Sordid Business of Democracy, 34 Ohio Northern University Law Review 341 (2008). The term "incumbantocracy" appears to have been coined by Jamin B. Raskin in The Supreme Court's Double Standard, where he argued that "voters don't really pick public officials on Election Day because public officials pick voters on redistricting day." THE NATION, Feb. 6, 1995, at I 67-68.

If democracy is a sordid business—a base, dirty, and ignoble business—then perhaps it is not too much of a stretch to say that there is something simple, clean, and noble about the business of "incumbantocracy." This should ring a discordant note. "lncumbantocracy," and not democracy, is the problem which calls for the courts to intervene. "lncumbantocracy" involves the sordid business of gerrymandering districts and fixing elections so that those in power stay in power, regardless of what the voters might wish or how they vote. "Incumbantocracy" is dirty politics, and trying to eliminate this practice is, no doubt, a dirty and difficult job; but one should not confuse the problem with the solution. If democracy is, in fact, a sordid business, the alternatives are much worse. As Abraham Lincoln once said, democracy consists of a "government of the people, by the people, for the people." Democracy is supposed to include the "continuing responsiveness of the government to the preferences of its citizens, considered as political equals. The present state of "incumbantocracy" in the U.S. all but ensures that "representatives" do not, in fact, represent the people. They are not accountable or responsive because there is little to no political pressure to keep them accountable.

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