From C4AF's Eric Loftke, that's Gerrymandering with a hard G:
Gerrymandering goes far to explain why dissatisfaction is so high, debate is so partisan and problems so unsolved. An elected official in a seat designed for safe reelection need do nothing else. Politicians in gerrymandered districts pick their constituents, not the other way around.
I especially like the scene with Peter Wagner of the Prison Policy Initiative describing a city council seat in tiny Anamosa, Iowa. The council member is elected with only two votes, his neighbor and his wife. Everyone else who makes up his districts is in a nearby prison. They can’t vote but they still count for purposes of political apportionment. Prison-based gerrymandering brings “representation without population,” Wagner complains.
I learned something else about gerrymandering. I’ve been saying it wrong, all these years (though I probably still will). It’s pronounced with a hard G, named after colonial era governor Elbridge Gerry, hard G, who redrew his state’s district lines in 1812 to secure party advantage. A period newspaper observed that the district map looked like a salamander, and dubbed it a “Gerry-mander.”
And with another Census recently behind us... A little reminder that s/he who controls redistricting controls the future of voting results to a large degree. Just ask Tom DeLay. Even if his efforts were pretty darned illegal when taken on its proven face value:
The Supreme Court agreed this week to review Texas' 2003 Congressional redistricting, which added five Republicans to the state's delegation. The plan, engineered by the former House majority leader Tom DeLay, is rightly being challenged as partisan and discriminatory against minority voters. It is encouraging that the court has decided to step in.
Mr. DeLay's 2003 redrawing of Texas' Congressional district lines threw aside the longstanding tradition that new lines are drawn only every 10 years, after the census. The purpose of this heavy-handed line-drawing was purely to increase the number of Republican districts. It worked. The number of Republicans in the delegation went to 21 from 16, helping to entrench Mr. DeLay as majority leader.
But we suffer under the 3 branches of corporatism so illegal does not always mean much when there is a buck to be made and a corporation to back you on anything you do. in order for them to get their way. Add to that near ZERO checks and balances to the real equation because of those entrenched corprate special interests in all 3 branches.
Keep redistricting in mind as you watch the next election cycle unfold.
The trailer for the upcoming documentary "Gerrymandering" below the fold.
"Surprisingly bi-partisan, this sharp documentary convincingly argues that the shady process of gerrymandering (politicians carving up districts in order to maintain power) makes a mockery of democracy—with confirmation from both sides of the political divide. Somehow, out of all that depressing news comes an exceptionally entertaining film. [Critic's Pick]"— Bilge Ebiri, NEW YORK MAGAZINE