Why Gerrymandering Keeps Me Up at Night

With the November midterm elections looming and the announcement of more and more Democrats’ deciding not to run for reelection, I have grave concerns about the balance of power in Congress and, quite frankly, our democracy. The Republican Party has steadfastly become the party of “no,” obstructing Democratic attempts at legislation in order to make Joe Biden a president with little to no victories, no matter how good they might have been for the American people, regardless of party affiliation. Even with the threat of a Republican-controlled Congress come this November, what keeps me up are the extreme gerrymandering efforts of Republican governors and state legislatures across the country.

I am most concerned about the partisan gerrymandering attempts by Republican governors and Republican-led statehouses in key states like Ohio, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Florida. the Ohio Redistricting Committee, for example, has failed to pass its newly redrawn maps on time, possibly placing it in contempt of court down the line. Tennessee is engaging in blatant racial gerrymandering to maximize and expand Republican strongholds. And Wisconsin, an important swing state in recent presidential elections, has adopted the “least changes“Approach and will essentially use a map similar to the one drawn in 2011, when Republicans controlled the state. This “new” map skews more Republican than the state as a whole. Most disturbing are the gerrymandering attempts by Florida Governor Rick DeSantis, who is running for reelection in late 2022, positioning himself as a 2024 presidential nominee or, at the very least, the man who will carry the water for Donald Trump in the event he runs for the presidency again (barring any federal court cases preventing him from doing so).

This is not to say Democrats are angels when it comes to gerrymandering attempts. But Democrats control fewer states and have fewer options to try to gain power compared to their Republican counterparts, who control the majority of statehouses and governorships. But what really makes Republican gerrymandering so sinister is the party’s aggressive interest in decreasing partisan balance and the number of competitive districts, packing racial and ethnic groups into single districts, and drawing oddly shaped districts across an entire state (see North Carolina).

As a refresher, gerrymandering is most successful when one of two processes occur. Either a party packs their opponents’ supporters into one district, or it takes a relatively strong district of their opponent’s and cracks it—dispersing opponents’ voters into several surrounding districts, thus diluting their power. I made a video about it, in case you want to visually see the power of gerrymandering.

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