Raise your hand if you know what gerrymandering is!
Shit…you’re people who voluntarily visited a political blog in your free time. Put your hands down, show-offs, you’re negating my point…
Okay, so the vast majority of people who are not as well informed as you lovely people often don’t know the frequency or impact of gerrymandering, or what I call “Dirty Voter Twister.” In its most basic, plain-language terms, Dirty Voter Twister is where people in office get to redraw the lines of who votes where. They redraw these in order to “Pack and Crack,” which is not Ricky Bobby’s new catch phrase. The idea is to (A) pack as many people who vote for or against your party into concentrated areas where their votes will have more or less impact and to (B) crack apart voter blocks that oppose you.
The result are districts that make absolutely no sense whatsoever; they are ugly, pretzel-shaped things that shouldn’t exist. Look at these abominations:
Because why shouldn’t districts look like they were drawn by a peyote-abuser who can’t color inside the lines?
Now, before we get started exploring the ways in which Dirty Voter Twister has directly screwed Omaha in particular, I’d like to give you some fun facts about the dirtiest, most dangerous, semi-legal political cheating ever invented.
Fun Facts About Gerrymandering to Help Your Dating Life!
1.) The intent is good – The technical term for gerrymandering is “Boundary Delimitation,” a term so boring and unsexy CBS is making a sitcom with that title. The intent behind boundary delimitation is simple: prevent unbalanced population across districts. It makes sense, right? People move, population centers shift, and we want the will of the people to be preserved. Lots and lots of democracies have this in place to make sure that whoever gets elected best represents a fair distribution of the people they represent. It’s like “Cookie Dough Oreos,” in that the idea may be great but the real-world execution is an unholy abomination.
2.) The word technically means “salamander person” – Okay, only kinda. In 1812, Massachusetts governor, and owner of a baller first name, Elbridge Gerry, became the posterchild for “boundary delimitation.” He twisted and manipulated the voting districts in his state until they looked like this:
Some clever writer at The Boston Globe thought it looked like a salamander. So, decades before we ruined language by mushing Kanye and Kim into “Kimye,” the Globe took Gerry and Salamander and made “Gerrymander.” Honestly, democracy would have had a better chance against an actual winged lizard.
3.) It oughta be illegal – Don’t ask me! Ask former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. He calls the practice “outrageously unconstitutional,” claiming that it violates “equal protection under the law” by rendering certain votes “more important” or “less important” than others. Listen to brother Stevens SPIT FIRE on this one:
“The government cannot gerrymander for the purpose of helping the majority party; the government should be redistricting for the purpose of creating appropriate legislative districts.”
Ohhhhh shiiiit! Stevens is straight-up droppin’ the mic on that one! You GO, JP!
Basically, all he’s saying is this: Due to various changes in population over time, it makes sense to shift who votes where and for what district. You just shouldn’t be able to do it all the time and only to keep your own party in power. Because if you played Dirty Voter Twister over and over again, why you would almost guarantee your party wouldn’t lose power!
4.) The GOP is playing Dirty Voter Twister over and over again to guarantee their party won’t lose power – I’ll talk directly about how this is affecting Nebraska in a minute, but let’s take a step back and look at the national level for a second.
The House of Representatives is literally the one place the GOP is clinging to relevance with a rigor mortis-like death grip typically reserved for holding firearms. It has allowed them to create a legislative stalemate with the White House and given them a platform that suggests they are still a viable party. They point to their victories in that body of congress as proof that they matter. Hell, John Boehner claimed the GOP had “a mandate” after the 2012 elections.
Except, Republican representatives got 1.4 million LESS votes than Democrats did in 2012.
For the first time since WW2, the party that got MORE votes for the House DIDN’T wind up with a majority of representatives. The concept of democracy is not all that complicated. The majority of people are supposed to say “hey, we like that person more than those other people and want that person to represent us.” Then that person goes to Washington and disappoints everyone. But thanks to Dirty Voter Twister, that’s not how it works right now.
Democrats tend to live in densely populated, urban areas. So House GOP folks basically make sure that they get condensed into places where they KNOW Dems are going to win. So the GOP stacks all the blue votes together in places they knew they’d lose anyway to protect races where they are vulnerable. And this is how you LOSE by over a million votes and RETAIN a majority of seats.
I should point out: I am against Dirty Voter Twister when Democrats do it too, which they have in the past (and still do on some levels). I got my boy JP Stevens’ back on this one and favor a constitutional amendment that would make this filthy cheatin’ tactic illegal. I just want that on record. Word is bond.
Nebraska done got ‘Mandered!
Tomorrow I’m going to hit you with a particularly awesome story about Lee Terry that you’ll love. It’s personal, and I SWEAR it’s true. But for now, let’s just look at HOW he won, not if he should have.
1.) Blue dot OVER MY DEAD BODY! – Famously, in 2008, Omaha gave an electoral vote to President Obama. It was a watershed moment in VARIOUS ways for my home. Briefly, I could look at an electoral map and tell my friends to watch for me on CNN. “I’ll be the tiny smurf in a sea of blood!” “The blue dot” got a lot of press. More significant was what it represented: a high concentration of liberal voters in an otherwise conservative state.
So, of course, priority one for our GOP representatives was to squash that dream like backing a steamroller over a house spider.
2.) Flip the script! – This was the second congressional district in 2008. The one proudly championed by Lee “This is my serious face” Terry.
Notice the bottom in particular. Watch what happened by 2012…
They flipped Sarpy county. Again, the INTENT of Dirty Voter Twister is to be able to more accurately represent the population. Unless Sarpy county was suddenly invaded by rabid space aliens, sending the residents westward, it would appear as though this was done JUST to prevent (A) a repeat of “The Blue Dot” and (B) to keep Lee “I’m serious, this is me looking angry” Terry in power.
Whether or not you bleed blue or red, you have to admit…this is some serious bullshit. The candidate who ran against Lee Terry, John Ewing, was an amazing guy. Incredibly practical with a great background and a knack for bipartisanship. He SHOULD have won. Let me say this in completely unambiguous, direct language:
Had the SAME PEOPLE who voted to elect/re-elect Lee Terry been given the chance to vote on his performance, he would no longer be in office.
Does that seem like democracy to you?
It seems pretty obvious to me that Dirty Voter Twister is inarguably one of the biggest issues facing modern democracy. Right now, it’s the GOP bending congressional districts, but it could just as easily be the dems. Look, it’s ALREADY hard enough to convince people to vote. But to rig the game to where votes that counted a certain way before no longer have that same impact is just total poo-poo. Worse still, if the GOP were held accountable for their policies and behaviors, they would likely have to evolve and change them. That’s how politics is SUPPOSED to work. But because of this practice, they can dig their heels in, stick their fingers in their ears, and swear that what they’re doing must be working because they keep getting re-elected.
It’s the worst.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go pray to the ancient, winged Bostonian salamander God to redraw our districts with magic fire breath…because that’s actually more likely than passing a constitutional amendment to fix this mess.