The road to hell is led by good intentions. The history of gerrymandering was admirable. It was meant to find avenues of diverse representation. Finding a bypass to de-facto segregation, gerrymandering was the attempt to rewrite congressional districts regardless of geography. Instead of geographical redistricting, districts were written up in strange patterns to create districts that were more diverse. Its roots are in the reconstruction of the south. This is of course a sore subject to neo-Confederates who still hold that it was a War of Northern Aggression. Utilizing the voting rights act, districts diluted the traditional power structures representing the House of Representatives. Fast forward to today and we find ourselves unleashing Pandora’s Box. The usage of Gerrymandering went from admirable to politically expedient; the spoils of political war.
I do not hold blame to one party or the other. Both have utilized gerrymandering to sway the political winds in their favor. Unfortunately what goes around comes around. The spoils of political war have inevitably led to the creating of very safe districts for the majority party. This is done via the partisan victories in State elections. The states have control over the shape of Congressional districts within US Constitutional parameters. The majority party in each State in turn allow Federal districts to become safer and safer for entrenched incumbents.
It must be said that Gerrymandering is a phenomenon stemming from the US Constitution. There is a set cap of 435 Congressional Districts. This is divided up by States measured by the decade span, Constitutionally mandated, Census. The Census determines how many districts each state will inevitably have and therefore require the rewriting of District boundaries. My argument is that this tool has become overly politicized by poor Federal oversight & regulatory controls.
Since the 1980’s there has been a Conservative movement in the upswing within the United States. That being said, the luck of the draw has had multiple Census being held when Republican Governors and State Houses were in power. What once was a tool of racial integration, with “pure” intentions has now been utilized to increase the safety of Republican Seats. The most egregious of this Gerrymandering has had its effects in Texas. Rep Tom Delay landed himself in jail for his shenanigans, though it has had the successful result of turning Texas into an almost pure Red State powerhouse.
Fast forward to today’s times. We just had a Tea Party backed coup to shutdown the Government. The purpose was leverage to stop the Affordable Care Act, aka slurred as Obamacare. In reality the utilization was to find a party platform of “fiscal conservatism” to win in 2014 and 2016; solidifying the ultra-right political agenda. Polls clearly show that the overall GOP Conservative agenda does not hold sway to the majority electorate. As a result, we get reports of voter suppression and gerrymandered districts. This leads to the foundation to lead Conservative minority political assaults with little or no worry of political fallout. The Tea Party was funded by Far-Right Corporate sources. These bought districts, via Citizens United campaign rulings have led to the further degradation of the Representative Republic. The result is that a far-Right minority faction within the Republican party was able to hold the Government hostage to their agenda. This inevitably has failed, but the fight is far from over.
The path to equity is far from easy. It will take Judicial victories and regulations to ensure Congressional District fairness. The only way to dismantle this network of legal corruption is via winning State Electorates in preparation for each decade’s Census. Furthermore those that are in opposition to parties utilizing gerrymandering must walk the straight and narrow path. Righting inequality in all forms is the only light at the end of the tunnel. The degradation of the Union is absolutely at hand. Those Tea Party, “Don’t Tread on Me” compatriots are leading the charge in dismantling the spirit of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. This is absolutely contrary to political self preservation, but their rationality is not based on scientific, statistical, & historic reasoning.
At this juncture, the voting rights act must be bolstered. It is even under attack via Judicial Review in the Conservative leaning Supreme Court. After ensuring the equity of the humble voting Citizen, Congressional Districting must regain some level of political stability. No Congressman should be safe due to the shape of their District.
- Why do politicians gerrymander? (economist.com)
- Gerrymandering: What is it, and why should you care? (afteralltheideologicalfights.wordpress.com)
- Time to fix the gerrymandering mess (readingeagle.com)
- Phil Power: Iowa, California offer ideas on how to fix gerrymandering (mlive.com)
- Gerrymandering Index (gspeed0689.wordpress.com)