Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Money and Gerrymanders

My phone rings a dozen times a day.  I've got into the habit of not answering it.  After six rings, the $30 AT&T Answering machine takes over.  Most callers hang up after five rings, so I don't get very many messages.  These callers all want money.  Some of them want to paint or repair my house.  Others want me to contribute money to a political candidate or to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee, the President's Organize for Action Committee, etc.  They all tell me about how much money the Koch Brothers are spending to reelect Republican Representatives, elect Republican Senators, etc.  It seems as though there is a belief that enough money will buy the election.  If our side can outspend the Koch Brothers, we will win.

I doubt it.  After every ten-year census the various State legislatures (except California and Iowa, that have non-partisan commissions to redraw district lines) redraw the lines of Representative Districts.  The majority party in the legislature sees to it that the lines are drawn to favor incumbents of that party and, if possible, help members of the party unseat incumbents of the other party in districts they represent.  Drawing district boundaries to favor one particular party (or ethnic group or other) is called "gerrymandering" after a politician in the early 1800's named Eldridge Gerry.  It's easy to do if you have reports by individual precinct from a recent election.  You create districts for the other party with as great a majority for that party as possible.  You create districts for your own party with just enough of your party's loyal voters to elect your party's candidates.  Thus, a State in which 60 % of the voters prefer the other party can still be gerrymandered to provide that sixty percent of your own party's candidates win.

After the 2010 census, Republicans found themselves in control of the redistricting process in many States: large states like Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, Georgia, Michigan, etc., etc., etc.  They were able to guarantee that the House of Representatives would have Republican majorities until the next redistricting in 2020 regardless of the partisan vote in the gerrymandered States.  This is the problem Democrats have.  No amount of money is going to undo the gerrymandering.  I will continue not answering my phone until after Election Day.                          ......
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