Gerrymandering Is A Two-Sided Sword….

There’s an old adage heard among real-estate developers and businesspeople: If you owe the bank several thousand dollars, you have a problem; if you owe the bank several million dollars, the bank has a problem. Guess which debtor is most likely to be successful in renegotiating the terms of the loan?

So–I hear you asking–what in the world does that have to do with our currently dysfunctional GOP, or with partisan redistricting, aka gerrymandering?

Among the Republicans in Congress, there are plenty of “true believers”–fanatics and zealots of various types. (Honesty compels me to note that there are also some nut jobs among the Democrats, although not as many.) The crazies in the GOP, however, are widely outnumbered by people who do actually know better, people who have managed to get elected by playing to the ignorance and bigotries and extremism of voters who probably do not represent the majority of their constituents, but who can be depended upon to turn out, volunteer and vote.

The problem is, once they have energized that “base,” it owns them. The voters who make up the GOP base–in both senses of that word–demand fidelity to their passions, and their Representatives know it. That base controls a significant number of districts.

When the national Republican Party engaged in a wholesale redistricting coup after the 2010 census, that effort was wildly successful. (I have referred to the book “Ratf**ked” before; it sets out chapter and verse of “Operation Redmap.”)

Too successful.

There were two consequences of that wholesale gerrymander. The first was intended: Republicans won many more seats than their vote totals would otherwise have garnered. The second consequence, however, was both unanticipated and extremely damaging. The people elected to Congress from those deep-red districts the mapmakers created don’t feel any allegiance to the leaders of their party, or to reasonable or productive policymaking. They are only interested in doing the bidding of the voters to whom they are beholden, and avoiding a primary battle that–thanks to the gerrymander–can only come from the right.

The political reporters babbling on cable news consistently express surprise at the inability of the Republican part to govern, to control the factions that range from Hard Right to “wow, that guy’s a Nazi.” The answer is the success of their 2011 gerrymander.

The sane among them have a problem–and a choice.

If they have any integrity, they can follow their consciences, risk being primaried and defeated, or quit. (Every day, it seems, a GOP Representative announces a decision not to run again, and it isn’t hard to see why.) If they don’t have any integrity, they accept that they are wholly owned by the most rabid members of their base, and they simply pander accordingly. (In Indiana, we have a delegation composed entirely of True Believers and panderers. If you live in the state, you can decide who’s who.)

Unfortunately, this country needs two rational parties populated with adults in order to function. So not only is the GOP broken, our whole government is broken.

Happy Valentine’s Day…


  1. Gerrymandering is one tool. Both of our broken parties and our media make it nearly impossible for new political parties to emerge. They use their power to ensure they remain in control.

    I’ve heard repeatedly from well-educated folks, “We need a true centrist party.” What about a leftist party?

    The old political spectrum with right-left-center is a fabrication – an illusion. When the Monarchy ruled the British Empire, it was easy to see the who, what and how.

    When an Oligarchy controls the American Empire, it’s not as easy to detect. Anybody who thinks our “elected president” is the ruler has learned over the past three presidents that is not the case.

    Both political parties are capitalistic entities. If capitalism is the problem, then logic confirms that both parties would be broken as well. As many wise economists have pointed out, we are in the late stages of capitalism, our technology has allowed for rapid globalization, and we have emerging world leaders in the East.

    Once again, Albert Einstein told us capitalism’s predatory phase must end and be replaced with social planning. Trump’s proposed budget shows the other option – authoritarianism/fascism.

    He wants to slash entitlement programs and send more money to the military. The GOP will temper his desires, but it also reveals the cards the Koch brothers are holding.

    I want no part of their dystopian vision where our government turns our surveillance and military against us. No thanks.

    However, the other problem is the DNC isn’t an opposition party and no longer holds capitalism accountable because they are owned by Wall Street. As extreme as the GOP has become, the DNC has just followed them instead of building a party platform for the people. Poll after poll shows the American people support the vision Bernie Sanders has been touting. The media does their job of painting him as a marginalized socialist.

    Two choices after capitalism: authoritarianism or social planning (democratic socialism).

  2. And the Kochs intend to spend unfathomable amounts of money on the 2018 midterm elections to either maintain or increase their control of our (their) government and our (their) country.

    I still believe it will take people rising up in a revolution to turn things around. We can’t do it through elections because the wealthy control our elections.

    So far, we have chosen to allow ourselves to be controlled and beaten down daily as we watch the corporate rulers take more control under the trump regime.

  3. There are two words to describe any revolution that might occur in the good old US of A, bloody and short. That would hasten an authoritarian regime like nothing else.

    Revolution must take place at the ballot box. When only 50% of eligible voters go to the polls, we have essentially given up on our Republic. If we can increase the number of voters by half, we will start to see the changes we would like to see. Find candidates you can support and work for them.

    I would urge the left not to go overboard like the right has done, however. Ideological purity only works in totalitarian regimes.

  4. This may be a naive/stupid question but; what is the difference between gerrymandering and the Nazis under Hitler deciding Austria was actually Germany (yes, I have read their history), and Poland and other European countries belonged to Germany? Why are district lines not set (yes, I also read the required population numbers) like county and state lines and Representatives work with residents and businesses contained within their districts? Why do some districts straddle county lines to meet the population requirement; and encompassing several different laws, rules, ordinances, court systems, et al?

    Does anyone here see any logic, common sense or rational reason to continue redistricting/gerrymandering to please a few politicians and fill the pockets of lobbyists?

  5. I guess another side effect of gerrymandering is that all winners instantly become career politicians. It’s amusing that they begin their first campaign by talking negatively about career politicians, ala Todd Rokita and Mike Braun.

  6. Sheila accurately suggests that both parties are unable to effectively govern now because they are broken due to radical stands in such parties by those do not respect their own party leadership, but I think that is an effect rather than a cause. Yes, the Republicans did a number on us with their gerrymandering following the 2010 election which gave us majority rule via minority vote and we need to address that with emphasis on state and local elections before the next decennial count – and we all know that such radical positions were and are and will be financed by Koch and Mercer libertarians as well as by some who finance our party’s efforts. These latter day apostles of greed are buying chaos in order to divert our attention from their selfish undertakings and I expect such inter and intra brawls in both parties to persist until (if ever) we have campaign finance reform.

    Unfortunately, campaign finance reform (removing money from politics) is not likely with (speaking of radical thought) such holdings as Citizens United and other extensions of First Amendment rights to both human and artificial entities under the guise of religion, sexual identity and the like, so (given reality) what to do? We must do the best we can to save our democracy from radicals and oblivious capitalists until automation and AI soon force us to adopt a profoundly new political culture where (at the outset of such transition) decisions may be made in the streets rather than in a hidebound and ineffective Congress and Oval Office.

    I think it is not just money that is (if not already) destructive of our democracy; I think that the current transition of our economy from the Industrial Age to the Information Age (unless properly vetted and planned for) could again fall into the hands of the few with unknown results in such uncharted territory. To be honest, I don’t know what is going to happen because Nostradamus I am not, but I am sure given the role of ever more sophisticated and accelerating AI that we are on the cusp of enormous change in everything we do, even finally and possibly, to a point where gerrymandering and money are irrelevant.

  7. Todd: Authoritarianism is showing up in many places around the globe, including at home. It’s a sad state.

  8. Don’t Make No Waves…Don’t Back No Losers: An Insiders’ Analysis of the Daley Machine
    by Milton L. Rakove was published in 1976. Rakove noted in his book the emergence of what would be become the “Tea Party” in Illinois politics in particular in the Chicago area. This infant Tea Party scooped up the Goldwater Republicans. Any Rino would be targeted in a primary. The TV Theocrats joined the Republican Party during the Reagan Era. The Theocrats would add their influence in determining acceptability.

    The losses by the Democratic Party is not explained by Gerrymandering alone.
    In 1992 in the House: Democrats 258, Republicans 176, Independent 1
    In 2010 in the House: Democrats 193, Republicans 242

    In 1992 in the Senate: Democrats 57, Republicans 43
    In 2010 in the Senate: Democrats 51, Republicans 47, Independent 2

    What is interesting is in 2008 the breakdown was as follows:
    In the House : Democrats 257, Republicans 178
    In the Senate: Democrats 57, Republicans 41, Independent 2

    Just doing the math the Democrats lost the House between 2008 and 2010, prior to the 2011 Gerrymander. The Democrats lost 6 seats in the Senate, during this same period.

    So you have to ask yourself why have the Democrats been a losing party??? IMHO, I believe it happened because the Democratic Party went from representing Main Street to Wall Street. The New Deal and it’s ideology, was sacrificed for Neo-Liberalism fully backed by the DLC and DNC. The Corporate Democratic Party took Union Campaign Contributions and sweat equity, but left the Unions on the curb.

    Max Baucus a Democratic Senator from Montana. Baucus said in May 2009 that “single payer was not an option on the table.” Thus Single Payer would not even be considered. From 2003-08, Baucus received $3,973,485 from the health sector, including $852,813 from pharmaceutical companies, $851,141 from health professionals, $784,185 from the insurance industry and $465,750 from HMOs/health services, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    The Republicans come across as this muscular steroid body builder in politics that takes no prisoners and the Democratic Party is the 98 pound weakling.

  9. If the Democrats lost their places in the majority in 2010, you can bet that a good deal of those voters were voting based on racial/religious/class identity and not policy. Add to that the voters who just didn’t bother or care, and you have the primaries ceded to extremists and the choices narrowed for the general election. Gerrymandering cemented those positions.

    Mrs. Obama spoke in Indianapolis last evening. She urged us to vote. She also urged us, but especially women, to look inward to find the source that might answer the questions about why some of us are so willing to give our own power away so easily. Maybe that is a question all of us need to ask ourselves.

  10. Todd and Monotonous Languor,good points.

    There seems to be a lot of “Hear no evil,See no evil,Speak no evil” amongst many of the commenters. There’s too much “How come so many people don’t vote” or People are stupid if they don’t vote the way I want/demand of them to vote”.

    Since there has been much discussion wrt women as of late on this very forum,there is a woman I want everyone reading to become acquainted with. There’s a lot more to the story than meets the eye and perhaps this “real world” example could enlighten and provide a clue as to why there is so much apathy among folks of voting age and eligibility.

    Notice she started Aug/1973 @ $3.00 an hour. Retires on January/2018 @ $10.05 an hour.

    Houston,we have a problem.

    And some folks have to wonder what is wrong? I guess one must be tone deaf or living in an ivory tower to be numb as to what has been going on for decades. Some here don’t want to read it–but something has got to give. This is unsustainable.

    Unfortunately,I have a feeling some here will simply hate this woman because she didn’t work in a proper, appropriate or approved (at least for this crowd) vocation.

  11. Max Baucus knows his Democratic constituents. Not only does he work doggedly on behalf of the donor/investment-class,he knows the Democratic bourgeoisie feels the same way about nationalized healthcare as their Republican counterparts;

    The proles have not earned their right to healthcare/I deserve an elevated level of care because I’ve earned it/We don’t need something that may level the field wrt class/I have a better occupation,why should I have the same kind of healthcare as a lowly janitor?

    HealthCare is a class issue….of course,in the current political milieu we must not speak of class. Do you wonder why?

  12. Words of wisdom from Adolph Reed:


    “That wing of the party’s opposition to redistributive policies and its disingenuousness regarding race and reproductive rights in particular have long been well known for what they are. As early as 1991 the late Julian Bond and I co-edited a special issue of The Nation dedicated to responses to that New Liberalism—“The Assault on Equality: Race, Rights and the New Orthodoxy,” which was the basis of a subsequent book, Without Justice for All: The New Liberalism and Our Retreat from Racial Equality. Ours was by no means the only such challenge to the conservative turn spearheaded by the DLC. (It is worth recalling that both Bill Clinton and Al Gore were presidents of the DLC, which was formed in the wake of Walter Mondale’s 1984 defeat explicitly to push the party to the right.”

    More here –>

Comments are closed.