So here’s the Hines solution to gerrymandering: *require all Congressional borders conform to existing borders that aren’t likely to change.* ie, make Congressional districts correspond to the borders of existing geographical units that have built-in institutional resistance to gerrymandering.
I have two suggestions that would fit the bill: a) counties and b) zip codes.
The conservative in me would prefer to go with counties. They’re a political unit already, so people are used to thinking of them in those terms. Plus, there are few enough of them so that, when you hear one mentioned that’s in your state, you have some vague idea of what region is being talked about. Whereas the average person’s reaction to the news that Joe Wannabe is running in the 19th district is apt to be along the lines of, “Where the fuck’s that?”
The drawback of the county method is that while Congressional representation is determined according to population, some counties are big as hell and some are small. My answer: some Congresscritters will represent more than one county, and some counties (the really big ones) will have more than one Congresscritter. How does that work? Let the critters sort it out amongst themselves.
The other alternative: the zip code. Geographically based. Politically resistant to change. (Don’t think so? Imagine how pissed you’d get at your Congresscritter if he tried to *change your address* every couple of years. People don’t give a damn what Congressional District or Ward or whatever they live in, because they don’t use that information every day, and folks who aren’t politically inclined typically forget that stuff until election time rolls around again. Mailing address? Different story.) Smaller than counties, so less need to worry about several Congresscritters would juggle one. Potential downside: possibly too small: they could be susceptible to being shuffled between districts, especially if some smart Congresscritter desides to start using those dang plus-four codes.