Saturday, January 19, 2013

Gerrymandering-- Another Anti-Democracy Tool In The Right-wing Arsenal


At this point you have to either be an unreconstructed Southerner or a Michele Bachmann constituent to not understand that the Republican congressional strategy is to undermine the United States and cause as many people as possible as much pain as they can. House Republicans aren't even hiding it any longer. That's because of gerrymandering. Their districts have been drawn so precisely to exclude anyone who hasn't been brainwashed by Fox, that no matter what normal people think about GOP treachery, the congressmen leading and enabling it can be reelected forever and ever. It doesn't matter that militia extremist Steve Stockman (R-TX) was involved in the Oklahoma City bombing, his constituents love him and 165,388 of them gave him a 71% win. Yesterday he was threatening to introduce legislation to impeach President Obama. How do trolls like Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Buck McKeon (R-CA), Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Steve King (R-IA), Trey Radel (R-FL), Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Marsha Blackburn (R-OH), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), Darrell Issa (R-CA) get elected? Why did it take so much sturm und drang for voters to finally dump a claque of obvious sociopaths like David Rivera (R-FL), Frank Guinta (R-NH), Mean Jean Schmidt (R-OH), Allen West (R-FL), Dan Lungren (R-CA), Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), and Joe Walsh (R-IL)?

Oregon Republican Greg Walden, the new NRCC Chairman, understands exactly why. "Redistricting," he crowed, "was a blessing for us." A blessing because Republicans can act like dicks and psychopaths and not have to worry about being defeated at elections. Their handpicked (or computer-picked) constituents are as bad as they are-- sometimes even worse. Thursday Alexandra Jaffe suggested in The Hill that Republicans are worried that they'll lose the House in 2014 if they continue botching up the debt ceiling debate. I guess that comes down to a definition of "botching up."
There’s growing angst among Republicans that the party’s House majority could be at risk in 2014 if the deep GOP divisions that emerged during the recent “fiscal cliff” negotiations persist in looming negotiations over a slew of budgetary issues.

Even as Republican officials maintain the GOP majority is safe, several lawmakers and longtime activists warn of far-reaching political ramifications if voters perceive Republicans as botching consequential talks on the debt ceiling, sequestration and a possible government shutdown.

“Majorities are elected to do things, and if they become dysfunctional, the American people will change what the majority is,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a House deputy majority whip and a former National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, told The Hill.

Concerns on the right stem from a public perception that House Republicans were to blame-- because of poor leadership strategy and rank-and-file dissent-- for bringing the country to the edge of the fiscal cliff late last month. ... Only 19 percent of Americans approved of the job Republican leaders did on the issue, while 48 percent said they approved of Obama’s handling of the negotiations, according to a Pew Research Center poll.
And polling that shows generic national polling favoring congressional Democrats by double digits is unimportant. Individual, usually genrrymandered, Republican districts are the only thing these House Members care about. And Jaffe did acknowledge "redistricting shifted a majority of House districts into solid-red territory... Democrats need to net 17 districts to take back the House in 2014, widely considered a significant hurdle to overcome." Combine that with DCCC Chairman Steve Israel's astounding incompetence and his insistence that he will not target GOP leaders or any of his pals from the Center Aisle Caucus and you come up with a mathematical impossibility-- regardless of what the Republicans do to screw up the country-- that they can lose the House! Jamelle Bouie responded to Jaffe almost immediately in the Washington Post.
We’re just a few weeks into 2013, but the Republican brand has already reached a new low. To wit, when given the choice between a generic congressional Democrat, and a generic congressional Republican, only 37 percent say they would support the Republican, according to the latest survey from Rasmussen.

Indeed, it’s this unpopularity that has caused a little panic in GOP ranks. The Hill’s Alexandra Jaffe reports on the “growing angst” among Republican lawmakers over the longevity of their House majority. In short, they worry that the voters will punish the GOP if its perceived as “botching consequential talks on the debt ceiling, sequestration and a possible government shutdown” ... Not only are Republicans trailing on the generic congressional ballot, but the public has grown tired of GOP shenanigans. According to a CNN poll released last month, 53 percent of Americans saw Republican policies as extreme, and 52 percent believed that Republicans should give up more than Democrats to craft bipartisan solutions to the nation’s problems. Likewise, according to the most recent Washington Post poll, 71 percent of Americans disapprove of Republicans in Congress, and 67 percent say they’re doing too little to work with Obama on “important issues.”
Happy Days are here again? Not so fast. Without even going into the whole gerrymandered district problem, Bouie points out that "the midterm electorate is much different than the one that votes in presidential elections. The former is older, whiter, and more conservative. The latter is younger, browner, and more liberal. It’s that difference which drove the Republican gains of 2010, and which gave Obama a huge advantage in last year’s presidential election. Even if Republicans provoke a debt ceiling crisis and destroy any remaining credibility they enjoy, it remains true that they’ll enter 2014 with a favorable electorate on their side. And given the extent to which voters tend to support the same party, regardless of circumstances, odds are good that Republicans won’t lose any of their most reliable voters." And it can get a lot worse.

The GOP now wants to use the corrupt gerrymandering of congressional districts-- tolerated and enjoyed by Democrats who are far from innocent in this matter-- to assign electoral votes so that their candidates can consistently lose the popular vote by large margins while winning the gerrymandered congressional districts and then presidency. A new poll from Gallup released yesterday shows that only 29% of Americans support keeping the electoral college, which was conceived as an anti-democratic tool from inception and has become worse and worse of the years. Scott Keyes at Think Progress pointed out how it's worked so far.
[T]he Republican State Leadership Committee released a report boasting that the only reason the GOP controls the House of Representatives is because they gerrymandered congressional districts in blue states.

The RSLC’s admission came in a shockingly candid report entitled, “How a Strategy of Targeting State Legislative Races in 2010 Led to a Republican U.S. House Majority in 2013?. It details how the group spent $30 million in the 2010 election cycle to sweep up low-cost state legislature races in blue states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Their efforts were so successful, in fact, that Republicans went from controlling both legislative chambers in 14 states before Election Day to 25 states afterward.

In turn, the new Republican majorities would be tasked with redrawing congressional districts for the 2012 election. “The rationale was straightforward,” the report reads. “Controlling the redistricting process in these states would have the greatest impact on determining how both state legislative and congressional district boundaries would be drawn.”

This effort paid off in spades. As the RSLC’s report concedes, a majority of Americans voted for Democratic congressional candidates on Election Day, but only through the miracle of gerrymandering did Republicans wind up controlling the House. From the report:
Farther down-ballot, aggregated numbers show voters pulled the lever for Republicans only 49 percent of the time in congressional races, suggesting that 2012 could have been a repeat of 2008, when voters gave control of the White House and both chambers of Congress to Democrats.

But, as we see today, that was not the case. Instead, Republicans enjoy a 33-seat margin in the U.S. House seated yesterday in the 113th Congress, having endured Democratic successes atop the ticket and over one million more votes cast for Democratic House candidates than Republicans. The only analogous election in recent political history in which this aberration has taken place was immediately after reapportionment in 1972, when Democrats held a 50 seat majority in the U.S. House of Representatives while losing the presidency and the popular congressional vote by 2.6 million votes.
The report credits gerrymandered maps in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin with allowing Republicans to overcome a 1.1 million popular-vote deficit. In Ohio, for instance, Republicans won 12 out of 16 House races “despite voters casting only 52 percent of their vote for Republican congressional candidates.” The situation was even more egregious to the north. “Michiganders cast over 240,000 more votes for Democratic congressional candidates than Republicans, but still elected a 9-5 Republican delegation to Congress.”

Though party officials typically dance around the unseemly issue of gerrymandering, this report is surprisingly candid and unabashed. The RSLC, after all, is tasked with winning control of state legislatures in large part so they can redraw congressional maps to the GOP’s benefit after redistricting. Because most states allow partisan redistricting, its understandable that the RSLC would release a report boasting of its gerrymandering success that “paved the way to Republicans retaining a U.S. House majority in 2012.”
And that's why Memphis Tennessee Democrat Steve Cohen has introduced a bill that seeks to end the whole gerrymandering practice and replace cigar smoke filled backrooms-- and fancy partisan computer programs with independent redistricting commissions like the ones California and Arizona use.
Cohen said his bill would help prevent the partisan redistricting of states, which many Democrats and Republicans have said creates districts that favor one party or another and allows hyper-partisan candidates to get elected.

"It's time to take politics out of the redistricting process," Cohen said. "Congress is so polarized today that we're unable to find common ground on the major issues facing our country.
Cohen's co-sponsors are fellow progressives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA), two Blue Dogs, Mike Michaud (ME) and Collin Peterson (MN) plus John Dingell (MI) and the head of the New Dems, Ron Kind (WI). The bill has been sent to the House Judiciary Committee to be killed by corrupt Republican Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA), an anti-reform fanatic. Now watch Rachel Maddow explain what Operation RedMap was and how the GOP used it to steal the House majority in November:

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At 6:41 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

If there's any chance to overturn the GOP's dirty tactics on the gerry mandering districts then we have to sue them they want to play games & play dirty then we'll take them to the courts & fight dirty.

Kudos to Rachel she's always brilliant.

At 7:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One man one vote. Not one man 10 votes. North and South Dakota plus Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma should have 2 senators, not ten. Nothing is so invisible as the obvious. The out back and corporations are running America.


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