Thursday the Supreme Court on a partisan basis enshrined political gerrymandering as the law of the land. Now with gerrymandering officially finally enshrined as law of the land Republicans in particular can go about their current practice of drawing district maps in such contorted ways that will guarantee their majority status in state and national legislatures despite getting a minority of the vote.
This is of course not a new strategy. Gerrymandering is as old as the country. However with the advent of computers and software that can split districts down to lot lines to ensure one party control, we are simply in new territory.
Something known as Operation REDMAP was launched prior to the 2010 midterm elections. The plan was that Republicans would gain control of state legislatures prior to redistricting. If that happened they could redraw district maps that would on the whole give Republicans control of most of the swing states:
On the effect of the Red Map Project:
“Yes. The first piece of what the Republicans do with the gerrymander essentially happens in the 1990s, and this is when they use the Voting Rights Act to create majority-minority seats in Southern states. The only way to do in many of these states is to pack as many Democratic voters as you can into one district. These voters do elect African-Americans to Congress, and what you see, starting in mid-1990s is the highest level of African-American representation in Congress of anytime since Reconstruction. But it also has another impact. It turns all of the other neighboring districts more Republican.”
“I don’t have any problem with the Republicans winning when they win. The problem comes in when you have states like Pennsylvania in which Democrats get more votes and Republicans take 13 of the 18 seats. Or a state like Ohio, which is the bellwether state that keeps us all up on election night, a 50-50 state. The Republicans have 12 of the 16 seats. So, this is about being sure that elections matter, and that the side getting the most votes wins. And this is the difference between the gerrymander that happens in 2010 and any other gerrymander.”
“We are the only democracy in the world that allows the politicians to draw their own lines and essentially choose their own voters. When a nonpartisan commission is on the ballot, whether this a red state, or a blue state, or a purple state. In Ohio, Arizona, Florida, California. They always say yes. We want to take this out of the hands of the politicians. But the politicians, because they understand how important it is, are really reluctant to let go of this power. Even sometimes in states where nonpartisan commissions have been put into place, the politicians have found a way to worm their way into them.”
It is hardly surprising that a Supreme Court, gerrymandered by the Republican controlled US Senate came down in favor of gerrymandering as a practice. As many have noted before me, Republicans must cheat to win.
By controlling the make up of the law making branches of government at the state and national level Republicans will continue to have control of many aspects of every Americans life by either passing laws to control or give control of our lives to some oligarchical entity or by blocking laws that could help free us from control.
As a quick side comment, we will begin to understand how important Russian sabotage of the 2016 election was to Republicans, how important that Grassley and McConnell blocked the constitutional process for filling a Supreme Court vacancy and why the appointment of the totally unqualified Brett Kavanaugh to the highest Court was so important.
With this decision, we will see gerrymandered control of legislatures continuing. With that we will continue to see voter suppression laws designed to further cement the minority party’s control of government.
With that control cemented we will continue to see laws created to take freedom from the average citizen and hand it to entities such as the government, employers and the very wealthy who fund campaigns thanks to an earlier ruling that gave the wealthy a huge advantage in deciding who will have money to run a campaign.
What aspects of our lives do the legislatures control that you don’t realize? First is the aforementioned voting. If you can’t vote or have little chance of ever being represented by someone with your political persuasion your political freedom is pretty well squelched.
Healthcare is another area where the right does all they can to control citizens. The majority of Americans want some form of national health care system. Yet thanks in large part to things like gerrymandering and the filibustered we have been saddled with an insane system where our personal health depends not on ourselves and our doctor but on our ability to pay for insurance and then on some person in an office deciding that he or she thinks our problem is deserving.
Women’s reproductive health care. By living in Iowa, you live in a state that wants to be among the leaders in restricting a woman’s health care decisions. It is hardly freedom when your reproductive decisions are made by old men in the state legislature.
Closely related to healthcare is the stranglehold That employers have on your ability to get health care. The ACA was an attempt to do away with that stranglehold, but the right was able to manipulate the ACA’s effectiveness through various maneuvers at the state level and in courts. Controlling access to health care has essentially muted employees freedom.
Pricing education out of the range of most Americans or forcing people to go into debt to get an education is yet another control mechanism. Having debt, having a family, other obligations are other ways that the right uses human conditions as a way of controlling citizens. Eliminating labor unions and even eliminating actual jobs are other ways to control citizens.
As always two of the most powerful control mechanisms are religion and the fear of “others.” Both of these involve a fear of the unknown and a totally unfounded belief that there are certain humans who have some special power to protect us from these unknowns. In the wrong hands these can be very powerful fears.
As we prepare to celebrate yet another year as a country think of what our founders thought of as freedom compared to what we have today. Much of our freedom has been been transferred from us to those with money and power who wield that power for their own aggrandizement. There are ways to regain our freedoms, but the first step is to understand who is controlling your life now.