By Keith Griffin
*Dude in the photo is David Price, Democratic Congressman of North Carolina's 4th Congressional District - Photo by US Congress
For those of you that thought the only thing that we can fix in American politics is the congressional term limits… well, you’re wrong. Oh, and welcome to America! I see you’re new here. Today, we’re going to talk about vote riggingImean Gerrymandering.
So, say that you’re in charge of assigning rooms for your fine Greek Life establishment in college. Each room gets a vote on which beverage to purchase – the drink with the most votes wins. Now, say you are quite cultured and want a nice craft beer but the majority of your roommates are uncultured swine and prefer Natural Light. What do you do? If you’re a congressman, you organize your roomies in the most convenient way possible based on the cultured vs. the Natty Light drinkers. Maybe you put 5 Natty Light voters in the same room or put 1 Natty Light voter in a room with 2 craft men. The goal being that, of course, the Natty Light voters are negated as much as possible, and you get to drink that sweet craft beer regardless of the fact that “technically” you’re outvoted.
Welcome to Gerrymandering.
So how does congress use the beer analogy to make sure that they stay nice and cozy in their corrupt congressional seat (which they will never leave - see article on term limits here http://www.degeneratestalk.com/posts/2015/12/10/american-leadership-is-a-disaster-and-youre-playing-fallout-congressional-term-limits)? Allow me to explain. You see, congress is separated into two houses - the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate has 100 members which consist of 2 members from every state so that all states have equal say. In the House of Representatives state representatives are dictated by state population. For instance California has a lot more representation than say Wyoming… sorry Wyoming, try getting people to live in your state.
So how do states determine how to vote for these representatives? Well, the Senate is easy enough, the whole state votes for the two Senators. However, the House or Representatives run within voting blocs determined by state Legislature. Here is where Gerrymandering sinks its corrupt claws into our political system. Now, the problem with Democracy is that even in the most Republican of states there are Democrats, and vice versa. So the ruling party in the state government redistricts in a way where if you are likely to vote against their party, they are going to make it their life’s work to screw you as much as possible by virtually nullifying your vote. Maybe your district looks like a Salamander, maybe it looks like your Keurig coffee maker, and maybe it goes over the river and through the woods. As long as your vote doesn’t matter, we’re good.
Here are the most common methods to make sure your vote doesn’t matter:
- Cracking: Basically I’m dividing you up so that your majority is now the minority. Example: Franklin County, Ohio is divided into three suburban Republican counties so that in each district they are now outvoted despite having a very large Democratic voting bloc.
- Packing: Wow, there are a lot of you. Let’s put you all together so you have one representative instead of 5. Example: District 12 in North Carolina is a very thin snake that nails every liberal African American district from Charlotte to Winston-Salem. If you didn’t know, they are on opposite sides of the state.
- Hijacking: Hey! Let’s redistrict so that two incumbents from the same party have to run against each other. Somebody has to lose!
- Kidnapping: That guy has a lot of support in his district… let’s move the areas of his biggest support to another district so they can’t vote for him. Brilliant!
Here's a visual of what Gerrymandering looks like, using North Carolina's 4th Congressional District. Pay attention to the green section compared to other districts in the state:
Gerrymandering, at its core, is corrupt. You have state party officials writing the rules to elections that their party will be in. So how do we fix this disaster? Simple - we have independent non-partisan committees that district each state. If you think I’m crazy let’s just look at our friend to the north, Canada… or England… or Australia. All three of these countries saw this as a problem, so they established committees that were made up mostly of judges and longtime civil servants. What’s more, these individuals have no party ties and do not have access to any information such as demographics, prior district lines, or voting records. As a result, the popular vote consistently mirrors the representatives instead of there being as much as an 18 seat swing (2014 estimate).
There is hope. Even though each party has over 70% of their seats Gerrymandered and thus safe (72% & 71% respectively) multiple court cases have hammered away at the cracks. Specifically, in July of last year, the Supreme Court ruled that districts can be determined by the whole government and not just the legislature (i.e. judges, governor, etc.,) and as a result a number of states have now started electing the aforementioned independent committees. Due to this, Arizona has recently taken the redistricting process out of the hands of the legislature, and surprise! - Three seat swing occurred.
There you have it boys and girls - only 49 states to go. Cheers!
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