In general, I think our society is too litigious. We sue over everything, from spilled coffee at a McDonald's drive-through, to (and I just heard about this one) towing companies who wear out someone's tires when the city tows an illegally parked vehicle. Still, in our lawsuit-happy culture, there may yet be one worthwhile lawsuit worth filing, and I'm positively shocked that all the local ambulance-chasers out there haven't yet thought of it.
You see, as readers of this blog already know, every once in a while I'm struck with a brilliant bit of insight from out of fucking nowhere. This recent brainstorm hit me when I was (of all things) hemming up my softball leggings. (Um, yeah.) I was simultaneously listening to Penn Jillette's Sunday School podcast (which I highly recommend), and he was talking about how certain politicians seem to get elected no matter what. This, as I've often pointed out, is a reflection of gerrymandering, which is a euphemism for vote-stealing on the part of the political party which happens to be in power at the time of the drawing up of voting districts.
Recent example: Republican Mark Sanford was recently elected back into public office in a congressional district of South Carolina which is drawn heavily conservative. In case you've forgotten (and polls say you have), Mark Sanford was the inconsiderate prick who told people that he was "hiking the Appalachian trail" when in fact he was off to Buenos Aires to have an affair with his Argentinian mistress. For this, he was drummed out as South Carolina's governor and forced to resign. Two years later, the voters of this particular congressional district decided they'd rather have a conservative hypocrite than a liberal with integrity, and voted him into office over Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of Stephen Colbert. In response, he thanked God as a deity not only of second chances, "but of third, forth, fifth, sixth and seventh chances!" This apparently got a roar of approval from his supporters.
Welcome back, Plenary Indulgence. We've apparently missed you since the Middle Ages.
In a world where districts are drawn fairly, the moderate middle would have kicked this son-of-a-bitch out on his arrogant ass. Instead, gerrymandering has given this guy an ego that will make him believe he can get away with just about every damned thing, and he'll be quite correct. And all because political parties in power are allowed to engage in a conflict of interest when drawing up district maps. How backward!
And then I realized it: Conflict of interest! Isn't that already against the law? Indeed it is! For lawyers practicing law, anyway. It can result in a lawyer becoming disbarred, or a judge being forced to recuse himself from a case. Can politicians be forced to avoid conflict of interest? Well, the answer is, sometimes, and not all that often. But has anybody ever brought a lawsuit to that effect? Has there ever been a citizen bold enough to sue the (in this case) Republican Party over drawing up unfair districts on the grounds that it is a conflict of interest?
I don't think so. And that's why I'm kicking the idea out there. Could somebody please do that? I haven't the energy or the time for it, but somebody out there does! Citizens surely have a right to have their districts drawn fairly, and to have district borders which ensure that their votes are not stolen by border-dancing.
If a prison inmate can sue over not receiving crunchy peanut-butter because it goes against his totally-made-up religious rights, then surely, we who are not in jail can accomplish this one, noble lawsuit!