Inspection- How to Juryrig the Gerrymander
1. (Nautical) a temporary rig to replace a permanent rig that has been disabled, lost overboard, etc.
2. any makeshift arrangement of machinery or the like.
Shifting districts, originally meant to compensate for a shifting populace that grew larger, moved in and out of cities and different regions of the country, has become little more than a way to neuter voters one would rather not vote. Both of the major parties, when they’re in power, have been doing it for a long time. Maybe because people think it’s a great thing when the other guy’s ox gets gored and then served up on a platter of political convenience. When the political apple gets stuffed in their ”mouth,” they complain, complain, complain.
There’s a way to make them shut the hell up: stop all the complaining, and stop some of them from trying to screw the other side when it comes to gerrymandering, and the other side turning around and screwing them when it’s their turn. A temporary fix: juryrig it, if you wish, in the best sense of the word…
Gerrymandering has to be the oldest ways our pols have rigged elections. Parties in power get to draw obscene looking districts, all with the purpose of gaining political power by pretty much eliminating the power of the vote for some, and giving others way too much say election time. It has been known to keep protestant whitey in power, for example, eliminating pretty much any say minorities should have had, even any say majorities should have had. But, to be honest, when haters of everyone not protestant, not white, have been deprived they speak foul of gerrymandering too.
Only fools say, “If both sides hate something it must be a good thing.” Sometimes they hate it because it is a detestable practice. Love it, when convenient because, well, they’re sociopaths.
Gerrymandering has become a science. There are people that can be, and are, hired along with their very sophisticated computers to design districts. They also know to call it anything but what it is: cooking elections. Gerrymandering is for them is a profitable business: greed served by gaining power for their clients at the expense of the electorate.
The idea that elected pols should be able to shove voters into districts arranged to favor them is about as anti-representative, anti-democratic, as one can get.
I have a solution: a way to take the power out of the winds of political convenience. Certainly the kind of computing power used to steal elections by screwing with districts could be used to do create districts in as fair a way as possible. With computers assessing these districts on a strict mileage vs. populace concentration basis: no demographics allowed other than “how many people of voting age,” the setting of districts limits should be easier, less politically driven and more fair. Information of where voters who vote in certain ways are should be, by law, forbidden to be included in any assessment in any way. Same with race, economic status, religion… etc. Programming anything like that into any computer doing redistricting… illegal. All reassessments of districts happen between election years, and every four years. That, of course, is a figure I just tossed in. Another time span might do. But once that is decided it’s set in stone until 75% of both legislatures decide otherwise. No special redistricting like what happened in Texas.
By necessity all this should be, not by state law, a law the whole nation must follow. In the case of voting the more local you get the more chance there will be for cherry picking the rules. A state’s rights only approach doth not decent voting rights provide, as Jim Crow laws proved.
Here are some possible design parameters for the districts…
Assess one standard: median if you wish, mileage for districts in the rural parts of any state, and another for highly populated areas. Then start at the middle of the state, let’s say 60 miles by 60 miles just to have a figure to work with… for now. Build the squares around the first square. We hit a highly populated area, maybe change the mileage to 30 miles by 30.
Again, please remember these are rough figures, and could vary state to state according to population density of the whole state. A third mileage of, say 100 by 100 or more, for states with large rural areas may be necessary. And maybe a fourth for states like Alaska with spaces that go on and on with little but moose, or beaver, or mosquitoes to count.
When you reach the borders of each state where there’s not enough miles the district is drawn to the border. There would be a few irregular districts left, and that will be what they are. But this should be a last resort when you can’t follow the other parameters.
What you won’t get are districts that look like very bad Rorschach tests designed to screw one constituency in favor of another.
What you won’t get is politicians attempting to steal the vote by designing districts to empower their base and screw those who usually wouldn’t vote for them.
What you won’t get is the need for Texas Democrats to take off for some nearby state because Republicans don’t want to wait to redesign districts until when they usually redesign them.All because they don’t believe in the system of government we have. They believe they have the right to grab whatever power they want, just like every dictator in human history.
Not a perfect way to design any district.
But better than some partisan hacks hacking apart districts for partisan gain? Hell, yeah. It may be a temporary fix, but certainly that temp fix would be better than the corrupt system we have now, until we can replace it with something even better, if we must.
One would hope, if leaders of both major parties understand that this means the other side can’t do it to them when they’re in power they’d support this.
And, if they don’t, we know what to do election time, right?
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
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