Friday, July 27, 2018

Gerrymandering-- Dateline Michigan


When extreme partisan gerrymandering is dealt with-- as it was in Pennsylvania this year-- it can make a tremendous difference. The partisan makeup on Pennsylvania's congressional delegation will likely go from 12 Republicans and 6 Democrats to 8 Republicans and 10 Democrats. How's that for a swing? The Republicans are screaming like stuck pigs.

Michigan is another horribly gerrymandered state. On a statewide basis it's pretty Democratic. The PVI is D+1. The state voted for Obama both tims he ran, 57-41% in 2008 and 54-45% in 2012. But because the state legislative districts are so badly gerrymandered-- and because the state legislature draws the congressional boundaries-- there is a very screwed up situation. First off, Congress has 9 Republicans and just 5 Democrats (in a state that should be 7 and 7). And the legislature is a mess-- 63 Republicans and 47 Democrats in the House and 27 Republicans and 11 Democrats in the state Senate.

How can that be, you ask? Well... that's part of a corrupted anti-democratic political system, that seeks to negate the will of the people. A local Michigan magazine, The Bridge exposed the muck and yesterday, Michael Wines, writing for the NY Times spread their story nationally. "Newly disclosed emails," wrote Wines, "show Michigan Republicans angling to give their party a dominant position through gerrymandered maps and celebrating the plight of their Democratic rivals. Republicans in the state have denied that they sought partisan gain when they drew new legislative boundaries in 2011. But a federal lawsuit, which argues the maps are unconstitutional, has unearthed records showing Republicans intent on drawing boundaries that would help their party. The emails, disclosed in a filing on Monday, boast of concentrating 'Dem garbage' into four of the five southeast Michigan districts that Democrats now control, and of packing African-Americans into a metropolitan Detroit House district... Excerpts from the emails were filed in United States District Court in Detroit this week as part of a battle between the plaintiffs and the defendant-- formally, Michigan’s secretary of state-- over how much evidence the sides must disclose before a trial begins."
[T]he email excerpts disclose that Republican drafters wanted to create a map that would give the party 10 House seats and Democrats only four. That would have been too blatant, wrote Robert LaBrant, a Republican strategist, longtime executive at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and a recognized expert at drawing political maps.

“We needed for legal and PR purposes a good looking map that did not look like an obvious gerrymander,” Mr. LaBrant wrote in May 2011 to Jeff Timmer, a consultant to the drafting process. Contacted by telephone, both men declined to comment because they are likely witnesses in the lawsuit.

...Mr. Levin said on Wednesday that Republicans had redrawn his district in 2011 to include the residence of another Democratic congressman, Gary Peters, so that the two men would have to run against each other. Mr. Peters is now the state’s junior senator.

“They did everything they could to concentrate Democrats, to load these districts,” he said.

The newly unearthed emails could lend momentum to a proposed constitutional amendment to end gerrymandering, which is set to be on the ballot in Michigan in November. The amendment is written and promoted by a nonpartisan group called Voters Not Politicians.

The emails recall similar Republican redistricting efforts in 2016 in North Carolina, in which a leader of the drafting process said he had created 10 Republican House seats and three Democratic ones “because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats.”

“We’re seeing more and more of these cases in which the intent to gerrymander is so blatant and the ugliness of the process is becoming transparent to the courts and the general public,” Richard H. Pildes, an election-law scholar at the New York University School of Law, said in an interview. “That certainly can’t make the courts comfortable.”

The Supreme Court declined to rule on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymanders this spring, and many experts say they believe Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s retirement announcement last month have lowered the odds that the court will outlaw the practice.

“It looks like naked partisanship, and that might be permissible,” said Barry Burden, the director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “If it’s merely one party trying to harm the fortunes of the other, the court thus far has given that the green light, and it might continue to.”
Isn't that another good reason for Democrats in the U.S. Senate to defeat Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, a partisan far right warrior? I don't expect that kind of logic to appeal to conservative careerists Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Joe Donnelly (D-IN) or Joe Manchin (D-WV).

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At 1:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...a corrupted anti-democratic political system, that seeks to negate the will of the people."

precisely! Like those pre-sworn D superdelegates and those gooned D primaries in AZ, NY, NV...?

Let's be fair and balanced after all.

Both yours and mine need to be fixed for a truly democratic system. And in your world of lesser evilism forever, neither ever will be.

so... your nifty web site... to what end?


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