Monday, March 12, 2012

The Gerrymander

 Elections have consequences, and every ten years, the politicos in charge get to draw congressional districts based on the census results. When you allow Koch-beholden, ALEC-brainwashed, tea party candidates with few demonstrated critical thinking skills in charge of determining the congressional districts, you run the risk of losing progressives like Dennis Kucinich, at a time where we can hardly afford to lose another one. But moreover, besides the loss of sympathetic politicians, inevitably, the redistricting we're seeing isolates the poor and minorities by the processes known as "cracking, packing and stacking":
 Cracking means dispersing a group of voters into several districts to prevent them from reaching a majority. Packing means combining as many like-minded voters into one district as possible to prevent them from affecting elections in other districts. Stacking occurs when low-income, less educated minorities are grouped together to create a perceived voting majority but are placed in the same district as high-income, more-educated white voters who turn out in greater numbers.
The Original GerryMander
Many who spoke at the hearing said Republicans are lumping black voters (84 percent of African-American voters are registered Democrats, according to 2008 data from the state board of elections) in districts that will ensure minority representation. In turn, this aggregation would make it easier for GOP candidates to win in neighboring white districts. This is the classic illustration of the mythical Gerrymander beast, drawn and engraved in 1812 by Boston artist, Elkanah Tisdale. The word was a combination of the name of the Governor of Massachusetts, Ellbridge Gerry and the word Salamander.

Ben Griffin, vice president of the New Hanover County NAACP, called the plans "segregation for partisan advantage."
That kind of sneaky maneuvering kills democracy, plain and simple. Marginalizing minority votes, in combination with the voter ID laws cropping up around the country is putting us closer and closer towards that permanent Republican majority with which Karl Rove has threatened us for years. These are the biggest challenges that the Democrats face in the make it or break it election cycle coming up. We have the numbers, but how do you deal with systematic dishonest hacking of the basic operating system of our Republic?
In Ohio we just saw how the Republican State Government created a classic Gerrymander along the shore of Lake Erie, extending from Cleveland to Toledo. In creating this, Ohio lost 2 Congressional seats and Republicans moved Democratic Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich into the same lakeshore district. But the two Democrats don’t exactly live next door to each other — more like 120 miles apart. So Republicans drew a thin district connecting their homes, stretching from west Cleveland to Toledo along the Lake Erie coastline. The district is connected by a bridge that’s only 20 yards wide, as well as by a single beach at one point. When Crane Creek State Park beach is covered during high water, Democrats argue the district is not even contiguous. I know this area quite intimately. The shoreline is rather sparsely populated Marsh extending for miles along the Lake Erie coast.
The outcome of this artificial life form forced Kucinich and Kaptur to run against each other in the Democratic Party Primary last Tuesday. Kucinich lost his seat and now Kaptur will face Republican TeaBrainer candidate Joe The Plumber, who will be her opponent in the general election
I showed you the original drawing of a Gerrymander, but what pray tell, are we to make of this beast?
The red line represents the newly created 9th District. The place where the corner touches the Lake in Ottawa County is located in a Marsh at Crane Creek, which is a National Wildlife preserve. The boundary between Ottawa and Erie
Counties is truly Marshland. Very evident when you fly over in a plane. 

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