I like to be informed. I know, for example, that Barack Obama was born in the United States. I am also fairly certain that he is not a Muslim (and that it really doesn't matter). I wouldn't go so far as to say that I entirely understand the health care legislation, but I do understand that that is because I have not done sufficient research, not because it is a socialist plot.
Even though I know that New Jersey's 8th Congressional district is reliably Democratic, I also like to vote, so I proudly marched to the Montclair firehouse to cast my vote for Pascrell. His headquarters had opened across the street from me just a few weeks prior, a testament to how uncontested he is here in the People's Republic of Montclair. I confidently entered the booth, reviewed my choices, and - Wait! Pascrell isn't on the ballot?!
Turns out, I live in the TENTH Congressional District. Surprise! Somehow, my small section of Montclair is sliced off the rest of the town. I would assume that the line runs somewhere between my apartment and Pascrell's campaign headquarters, but it's such a tough line to find that maybe he didn't know either.
A quick voting booth phone call to Ben later, and I now know that I am represented by Donald Payne, who is apparently the 11th most progressive member of the House. Cool! So how exactly did NJ decide to split up Montclair (and a bunch of other progressive Essex County towns!) into Congress? Let's go to the map!
Okay, so here is the district I *thought* I was in. Look! Bloomfield! (I used to live squarely inside the 8th.) So, check out that little missing diamond on the bottom. That's where I live now!
Look how neatly that same diamond perches on the top of the 10th!
So, why is that little part of Montclair missing? Well, for one thing, my neighborhood was really dragging down the 8th's demographics. The 8th features a median income of almost $52,000. We fit much better in the 10th's median income of $38,000. Clearly, when wealthy people from Park Slope are looking for a great suburban voting district, that's the first thing they check out (after the school systems, of course).
On the bright side, while I lost Pascrell, it turns out Donald Payne is pretty okay. Plus, I'm pretty sure that there are no Republicans in my district, since we include all or part of nearly every city in New Jersey. Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, Irvington, Linden, Union, East Orange, *and* my apartment?! I am clearly more important than I had previously realized.
So, now that I am a proud member of the 10th Congressional district (the Fightin' 10th!), I say why stop there? 2010 redistricting is upon us! Let's see if we can annex Trenton and Camden! I am sure there are still a few wealthy parts of Montclair left that we can ditch.