Elizabeth Kolbert's review for the New Yorker paints a dreary picture for the political left and center in America. The GOP is well ahead of the rest of us in its dedication to effective gerrymandering. Kolbert is responding to David Daley's "RatF**ked: The True Story Behind The Secret Plan To Steal America's Democracy." Starting in the days of Patrick Henry v. President Madison, "fairness" was to be discouraged -- the very Constitution discarded.
He [Henry] and his faction had tried to sink the Constitution, only to be outmaneuvered by the likes of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. When Henry arrived in the state capital, his adversaries assumed he would seek revenge. “'He appears to be involved in gloomy mystery,' one of them reported. 'They just weren’t sure how.'"
The Constitution had left it to state lawmakers to determine how elections should be held, and in Virginia the Anti-Federalists controlled the legislature. Knowing that his enemy Madison was planning a run for the House of Representatives, Henry set to work. First, he and his confederates resolved that Virginia’s congressmen would be elected from districts. (Several other states had chosen to elect their representatives on a statewide basis, a practice that persisted until Congress intervened, in 1842.) Next, they stipulated that each representative from Virginia would have to run from the district where he resided. Finally, they stuck in the shiv. They drew the Fifth District, around Madison’s home in the town of Orange, to include as many Anti-Federalists as possible. ...NYer
Onward but not upward. From that time on we've been fighting against the party of elitism, racism and imperialism. Certainly one important reason for embracing the politics of the Left is precisely what they are often accused of: being shy of tight organization. Being organized into a group that has a one-track mind and in which "freedom" means "freedom for thee and me but not for 'those people'" remained in place and still lingers in our memory. Right down to the present day, there are conservatives here and there who like to assure us that most slave owners were kindly folks who helped those dumb beasts to carry their burdens.
Kolbert reminds us that the Republicans, beginning (notably) in 2010, the development of "RedMap" -- "at a point when the country’s electoral map was largely blue." It was time, for the increasingly radical, rightwing Red party to knock the legs out from under the Democratic Party. In Arizona it got very messy, according to David Daley in his description of an effort in Arizona to clean up its redistricting maps.
“The closer one looks, the less independent the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission appears,” Daley writes. He finds the situation so disheartening that he proposes the whole election system be revamped. States, he suggests, should return to the multi-member districts that were popular back in Patrick Henry’s day. There is no reason to expect this or any other reform to be enacted. Pretty much by definition, gerrymandering suits those in power.
As far as the upcoming election is concerned, a REDMAP victory seems almost guaranteed. In House races in 2012, 1.7 million more votes were cast for Democrats than for Republicans. And still, thanks to the way those votes were packed and cracked, Republicans came away with thirty-three more congressional seats. A Trumpocalypse, if such a thing is possible, could put seemingly safe districts in play. But few pundits see that as likely. ...NYer
It's not as though the Dems don't care. It's about how much we care.
In preparation for the next census, Democrats have come up with a REDMAP-like plan of their own. They call it Advantage 2020, and say they hope to fund it to the tune of seventy million dollars. Republicans, for their part, have announced REDMAP 2020. Their spending goal? A hundred and twenty-five million dollars. ...NYer