OUTSIDE THE LINES

There is real hope that the Supreme Court could deal a blow to partisan gerrymandering schemes during this term, which bodes well for the aftermath of the 2020 Census.

But it wouldn't be 2017 if I let you get excited. Don't get very excited. This isn't going to end gerrymandering or even partisan gerrymandering; it may put an end to partisan gerrymandering so blatant, so "Ha ha fuck you what are you gonna do about it" bad that when the map is rejected in Federal court one can only say, "You could have gotten away with it, but you got greedy."

Look. Gerrymandering is no longer an art. It is a science, thanks to GIS software, massive data mining of social and demographic data, and bitter partisanship. People who are good at this sort of thing could gerrymander a Republican majority in the Illinois State Legislature (which is currently 2/3 Democratic). If you think I'm kidding, trust me – I'm NOT an expert and I can do it. As long as one throws shame out the window and is willing to draw the most patently ludicrous districts without any reference to reality or legal precedent, it can be done.

The era of party bosses eyeballing wall maps and drawing districts with a marker are gone. This is block by block, house by house precision. The technology has made political power and sheer gall the only impediments to gerrymandering the hell out of a state.

Turning 45% of the vote statewide into 60% majorities in the state leg as Wisconsin Republicans did may no longer pass muster if the Court does rule against the state. However, defining what is and isn't "partisan gerrymandering" will not have a clear definition. Like many things dealing with this topic it will have to be treated on a case by case, "I know it when I see it" basis. The Courts have long recognized that race is a relevant factor in redistricting, so…I mean, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out how to draw districts in a way that favors your party while using "Well, we were just keeping Communities of Interest together!" as cover.

A favorable ruling would be a rare bit of good news in this otherwise abysmal year, but go into it with your eyes open. This is, at best, going to end only the most comically over-the-top abuses of the redistricting process. All of the ordinary gamesmanship and attempts at system-rigging will putter along. That would be a net positive, but certainly no reason to have a ticker-tape parade.

Be Sociable, Share!

26 Responses to “OUTSIDE THE LINES”

  1. Brian M Says:

    I fear you are right. This may simply downgrade the funny business to permit that 47% to be consistent 51% or 52% majorities, which can still do a lot of damage.

  2. RP Says:

    Gerrymandering & the electoral college = affirmative action for Republicans.
    I though Republicans hated that shit…

  3. ronzie Says:

    I not only don't think the republican majority on the court, which only exists because of a stolen seat, will overturn blatant Gerrymandering, I think they're going to deny that "one person, one vote" is guaranteed by the Constitution, because it isn't. If it were, every state wouldn't have the same number of senators, and the ratio of representatives to constituents would be the same in every district. If we're going to fix our democracy, we're going to have to change the Constitution. With republicans in charge in most states, any changes that do get made will almost certainly make it worse, from a progressive standpoint.

    Then again, I never thought the court would uphold same sex marriage, so what do I know?

  4. Heisenberg Says:

    @ronzie House seats do represent roughly equal numbers of people. As I understand this is the direct result of the SCOTUS ruling that declared one person, one vote.

  5. Alex SL Says:

    1. If the seats in parliament are filled from nation-wide party lists via proportional representation, gerrymandering is impossible.

    2. There are countries that have electoral systems similar to the USA but have impartial institutions draw the district boundaries. I prefer proportional representation, but that also works.

    3. The more one side entrenches itself in power, the worse the blowback will be when public opinion turns against it.

  6. Bessemer Mucho Says:

    Even without Gorsuch, SCOTUS recently ruled that
    corruption does not have the appearance of corruption.
    I am not hopeful.

  7. Marco Says:

    I went to grade school with Jerry. Great kid as I remember. Sad to see he’s strayed…..oooops.

  8. Mistergizmo Says:

    Virginia is a good example. We're purple because of gerrymandering. When everyone gets an equal vote — for statewide elections like governor — we're as likely to vote Dem as Repub. But gerrymandering has resulted in a heavily Repub legislature, which obviously resists any redistricting to reflect the composition of the commonwealth.

  9. doug Says:

    'comically over-the-top abuses'
    NO NO NO
    it aint funny here in NC. tragic, not comic…

    And where did this optimism come from? Good luck with that…

  10. negative 1 Says:

    I agree with this, but as a fun mental exercise try coming up with a way to district that *doesn't* end up with a solid voting block that isn't simply shortest-line type geographical (which is what I favor).

    In my opinion the important part out of this case would be for there to be an expressed 'need' to redistrict before it's done. Plenty of studies have shown that gerrymandering on anything makes political polarization way, way worse. There's no incentive to compromise, and plenty of incentive to be 'the mostest conservative' if your district is 88% repub. At least if the lines are purely geographical, it ends up as close to random as possible. That's a good thing. In my neighborhood in the northeast it's as democratic as you can get — ethnically diverse and poor. But they haven't redrawn the lines in my trolley city in decades. When they were drawn? We were the McMansions of the WWI era, so we were probably conservative as shit. Either way, our politicians out of our immediate ward aren't nutjobs retweeting Trump, and they tend (in their own way) to try and at least identify problems to solve that will be popular. Is it perfect? Not at all, but it's the best we can come up with. And honestly, that sentence is probably the best anyone will ever do with redistricting.

  11. terraformer Says:

    I hope that the SC strikes down what the Rs have done here in WI. They have methodically and patiently turned this state, which is often referred to as the birthplace of progressive thought and government, into its opposite. That's a tragedy.

    But I also have come to realize that I am also often disappointed, as ruling after ruling, legislation after legislation, leans further and further toward corporatocracy and/or oligarchy.

    As a life-long student of human history, it's tough to watch this slow burn back toward a state of existence which we've already experienced, and supposedly learned from – especially when those who are loudest and have the largest platform deny or ignore that history.

  12. Safety Man! Says:

    Sorry Ed, if the SC manages to strike back at gerrymandering, even symbolically, I will be dancing in the streets.

    Outside of people waking the fuck up on a lot of issues, it’s the only hope we have left. After the resurgence of neo-nazi’s I’ve drawn a line through the younger generation.

  13. BCS Says:

    http://www.redistrictinggame.org
    Have fun guys!

  14. Brian M Says:

    Safety Man!: Nah. Even with the tiny neonazi movement, the real problem on almost every issue is the first cohort Boomers (60+). And I don't how rebellious they purportedly ALL were in 1972. Nimbyism, UN Agenda 21 conspiracies, Fox News….60+ is the problem.

    And I am far closer to the 60+ generation than I am to Millenials.

  15. Safety Man! Says:

    It’s like the Star Wars prequels, watching guys like PewdiePie, to paraphrase; you were supposed to be better than this, you were the chosen ones.

  16. Jestbill Says:

    @Brian M: I repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat that the Boomers split into two almost equal groups. Pro-war and anti-war also became pro-civil rights an anti, Republican and Democrat. Now, as they (we) age, we go nuts just like our crazy older relatives, but it's not OK to just blame Boomers since our kids are also idiots.

    We had a referendum on Vietnam and Kerry lost. (Boomers were supposedly against that.)
    We had a referendum on the ERA and Hillary lost. (Boomers were supposedly FOR that.)
    Boomers didn't do it all, they're just easy to blame.

    It's like blaming Southerners for civil rights abuses–they're just the most blatant, but without support from the rest of the country it would all be over and done with by now.

  17. Benny Lava Says:

    Someone said "House seats do represent roughly equal numbers of people" and you couldn't be more wrong.

    https://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-08.pdf

    America's electoral woes seems a festering sore and also an easy fix.

  18. Chris Says:

    Partisan gerrymander should be illegal. And I'm not talking against the rules, I'm talking criminally illegal. If there is evidence that you intentionally made districts to favor a party or politician, you should go to jail. Proving intent is really hard, so very few charges would ever be presented, but things are getting so bad that some politicians ARE bragging about it. They should go to jail.

  19. Steve Holt! Says:

    If you want to look at gall and political will, look at NC. The GOP House here would shiv their goddamn grandmothers if Duke Energy told them too, and they would all be easily "reelected" by their gerrymandered to fuck districts.

  20. democommie Says:

    "Gerrymandered to fuck" is an incomplete clause.

    "Gerrymandered to fuck everybody outside of their circle*" is
    a complete clause.

    * "Circle" in this instance is mutable; as the conquest rolls on various "ins" will become "outs" as their assistance/utility are seen as unimportant.

  21. Michael Says:

    Gerrymandering isn't rocket surgery.

  22. geoff Says:

    Yeah, I hadda try and eat this morning after learning Marsha Blackburn is running for the GOP Senate nomination in our fair state of TN to replace Bob Corker. I don't LIKE Corker, but at least he's not insane. She'll probably win, too.

    When we moved here there were two Dem governors in a row and at least one senator. Not sure if it's gerrymandering or just insanity. The Dems were Blue Dogs, but hell, I'd take some now. (Sad!)

    @Brian M, my kids are millennials, and they might be lefter 'n me. (IF THAT'S POSSIBLE : ) ) I fear they're outliers , though.

  23. Bernard Says:

    right, blame everyone else. Nazism or Republicanism as it is known in America is not giving up its' control without a fight. the Vichy Democrats will do everything but stop the Republicans/Nazis in their Contract On America, thanks to Bill Clinton.

    the power of Greed has America in its' firm unrelenting grip.

    Watching the Establishment as it was called in the '60s kill all protesters against Corporatism/Big Business is why and how we got to Bush, Obama and Wall Street running things.

    Killing protesters or making peaceful protest impossible is the sign of the times. We are an Oligarchy plain and simple. Prepare to submit or else.
    Resistance is not allowed to matter.

    Get over any idea of revolution as long as Republicans control America. and most dumb white Americans have been brainwashed over the last 40 years to vote "Republican". I certainly wouldn't vote Democratic either. a lesser evil is still evil.

    amazing to what people throw dirt at those who have no concept of how deep the rot is or how easily Americans have been "conned." White
    Americans, that is.

    those of us who are in the Republican mindset, single straight white males and their cohorts) are not going to understand or believe in any other way.

    Blame them? easy to do. Better to understand how they got that way and hope they "get" it before the Republicans finish off America, like the Thanksgiving Turkey dinner Americans have become.

    as if your VOTE matters!, lol

  24. democommie Says:

    @ Bernard:

    Fuck you. You bring this bullshit to every comment you've made here.

    BerGarJill lost, asshole.

    WHO the fuck are YOUR candidates for 2016–name them and how they have a chance in hell of winning or STFU.

  25. democommie Says:

    Shouldabeen:

    "WHO the fuck are YOUR candidates for 2018–name them and how they have a chance in hell of winning or STFU.".

  26. xulon Says:

    A couple of years back, voters in Ohio (for some reason, Democrats don't want to spend a single penny there. Kasic's Huge money roll ran unopposed; Portman's huge money roll ran unopposed. I totally fear for Sherrod Brown.) passed a constitutional amendment to make the districting non-partizan. The Republicans who control our state said that they will implement the changes … in 2027.

Leave a Reply