19 Republicans from gerrymandered districts hold America hostage.
"The “Never Kevin” crew represent solidly Republican districts. Nearly all of them were endorsed by former President Donald Trump and are members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus... dubbed the “Taliban 19”, the group is largely composed of bomb-throwers and lightning-rod lawmakers who revel in their outlier status" - Politico
How do 19 politicians get to hold America hostage to their demands? What is the shape of their districts like? How does gerrymandering work? How did Republican 'Rat F*cking' get us here?
Republican gerrymandering leads to chaos
Nearly all of them were endorsed by Trump and are members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus. Like the Republican Conference itself, many are from the Sun Belt. Nearly half of the group hails from just three states — Arizona, Florida and Texas. Five are newly elected.
... their brand is chaos. They’re not in it for the horse-trading. There are no institutionalists here — the group is largely composed of bomb-throwers and lightning-rod lawmakers who revel in their outlier status, whether it’s back in their home states or in Washington." - Politico
"Gerrymandering is used to draw maps that put a thumb on the scale to manufacture election outcomes that are detached from the preferences of voters. Rather than voters choosing their representatives, gerrymandering empowers politicians to choose their voters. This tends to occur especially when linedrawing is left to legislatures and one political party controls the process, as has become increasingly common. When that happens, partisan concerns almost invariably take precedence over all else. That produces maps where electoral results are virtually guaranteed even in years where the party drawing maps has a bad year. - Brennan Center
Gerrymander using two basic techniques: cracking and packing. Cracking splits groups of people with similar characteristics, such as voters of the same party affiliation, across multiple districts. With their voting strength divided, these groups struggle to elect their preferred candidates in any of the districts. Packing is the opposite of cracking: map drawers cram certain groups of voters into as few districts as possible. In these few districts, the “packed” groups are likely to elect their preferred candidates, but the groups’ voting strength is weakened everywhere else.
How did Republican Rat F*cking get us here?
"The idea behind redmap (Rat F*cking) was to hit the Democrats at their weakest point. In several state legislatures, Democratic majorities were thin. If the Republicans commissioned polls, brought in high-powered consultants, and flooded out-of-the-way districts with ads, it might be possible to flip enough seats to take charge of them. Then, when it came time to draw the new lines, the G.O.P. would be in control.
This pattern was repeated in normally sleepy legislative districts from North Carolina to Oregon. All told, in 2010 Republicans gained nearly seven hundred state legislative seats, which, as a report from redmap crowed, was a larger increase “than either party has seen in modern history.” The wins were sufficient to push twenty chambers from a Democratic to a Republican majority. Most significantly, they gave the G.O.P. control over both houses of the legislature in twenty-five states. The blue map was now red.
Two of the most common gerrymandering techniques are “packing” and “cracking.” In the first, the party in charge of redistricting tries to “pack” voters from the rival party into as few districts as possible, to minimize the number of seats the opposition is likely to win. In the second, blocs of opposition voters are parcelled out among several districts, to achieve the same goal. Both techniques were brought to bear in Pennsylvania. The new Republican majority “packed” blue-leaning voters into a handful of districts around Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Then it “cracked” the rest into districts that tilted red." - New Yorker
DeSantis gerrymanders Florida districts
"This map will significantly shake up Florida’s congressional delegation, as it virtually guarantees that Democrats will lose three of their House seats in Florida: The 7th District goes from a D+5 partisan lean to R+14, the 13th District now has a partisan lean of R+12, and Rep. Al Lawson’s North Florida district is completely refigured into a solidly Republican seat. In addition, the new congressional seat that Florida gained from the 2020 census — numbered the 18th — is dark red under this map, for a GOP gain of four seats in total." - FiveThirtyEight
Rigging the game
“For all intents and purposes, there’s currently, in Florida, one-man rule,” said Mac Stipanovich, a longtime Republican strategist who is now retired. “Democracy in Florida is not functioning. It’s not gone, the structure is there, the possibility of a return to representative government with checks and balances remains.”
DeSantis’s plan does not make a serious effort to comply with legal protections for minority voters. An amendment in the Florida constitution, overwhelmingly approved in 2010, makes it illegal to draw a district that diminishes the ability of a minority to elect the candidate of their choosing. DeSantis nonetheless eliminated two districts that allow Black voters to do so." - The Guardian
TakeAway: Fight gerrymandering so voters can choose their politicians and vote them out when they don't perform as expected.
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