By Danny C. | DCPeriodical | 12/21/19 |
If you’ve ever heard the term ‘gerrymandering’ and were unclear on what it meant, Professor Arnold Schwarzenegger explained it at the University of South Carolina last month in a way anyone could understand, and it’s definitely worth learning, no matter what country a person lives in.
As the Terminator explained, gerrymandering is the underhanded practice of redrawing electoral maps to guarantee a party’s win come election time, despite that party being the minority in terms of voter support.
The tactic was introduced by an ultra-partisan Republican Governor of Massachusetts in the early 19th century named Elbridge Gerry, who took it upon himself to pass a bill to eradicate his Federalist opponents in the State Legislature by disproportionately redrawing the state’s electoral boundaries.
The boundaries were, of course, meticulously concocted to make sure that Republicans were the majority in most of the districts, and so the districts themselves took on strange, uneven shapes when viewed on a map. One of the state senate districts, Essex County, looked similar to a salamander, and so a Federalist newspaper referred to the district as ‘Gerry-mander,’ and ever since, when new district lines are drawn to achieve the same end, it is referred to as gerrymandering.
This tactic is used all over the democratic world, most notably in the US and Northern Ireland, creating situations where politicians choose who their voters are, rather than the other way around. In other words, it is out-and-out election rigging. In truth, nobody abuses this wily tactic more to their advantage than the American Republican Party.
Let’s take Wisconsin for an example:
After the 2010 census, the Wisconsin legislature (controlled by Republicans) drew a map for the state’s legislative districts explicitly designed to ensure they would retain control of the legislature even if they received a minority of votes. It worked: in 2012, despite receiving only 48.6% of the vote, they won 60 of 99 seats. Democrats won an outright majority of votes cast but secured just 39 seats.–The Guardian.
Of course, it isn’t just Wisconsin. This practice goes on all over America, and along with voter suppression — such as requiring residential ID’s to be able to vote, which expels large blocks of native and ethnic voters from being able to take part in elections — and the electoral college — which gives one person in a less populated state the power to cancel the votes of many people in a state more densely populated — and the picture becomes clear as to how the last two Republican presidents — George W. Bush and Donald Trump — got into the White House despite receiving less votes than their Democratic adversaries, or how the Senate is majorly Republican, despite receiving less votes, or how Supreme Court judges are appointed by Republicans, despite having… well, you get the picture.
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