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Gerrymandering: How to Stifle Democracy

2018-07-12 | 🔗

No matter which side of the political spectrum you fall on, you should be outraged about the practice of gerrymandering. Redrawing voter district maps to ensure political dominance is about as undemocratic as it gets. Please enjoy Josh and Chuck getting unusually worked up about this abhorrent practice. 

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now available on the Iheart radio up or wherever you listen to podcast. Welcome to stop. You should now friend Hasta for Stockholm Hay and welcome into the podcast I'm Josh Clerk, there's Charles of each of brightness, Jerry Gerrymander, yet our pet salamander, Jerry Manner in this institutional, dad joke right out of the gate. Man, apparently that's all I've got these days, are dead, jokes, there's nothing wrong with it. I guess not, which is really just wave saying middle age, do jokes, sure sure cause. I think our sense of humour decline. We get less money- Likud, Jim gaff again, but we think we're funnier, bright, hot pockets, actually Eyeteeth Jim
I love your work. Oh you pass. No doubt I know, but I do love his work. Don't it's a fan like I like absolutely zero. There is zero, not alike about Jim gaff. Again, you know my body Jimmy he's he's sorted out of them. He says he's a good guy. I like there's no way he's not yet only he eat. Is you can't you can't you can't make up that level of like a coolness and niceness and approachability affability, even maybe gaff ability in vain. He just went that's to someone a train, I totally as if you listen to this shirt, so here were diving into politics, which we keep saying like. I was not do that causes political, but this is very noisy and now. Everyone understands gerrymandering- and I think it's this file- bas under P essay, because it's a big deal in it, stinks and has been going on for a long time,
yeah, it was I'm definitely with those people who didn't understand it like. I knew yeah? I had to do a drawing maps and you could drawn so that their unfair and I never thought. Well. How do you do that, and I found out thanks to researching this episode, and apparently it's gotten way way worse in recent years, so to understand. Gerrymandering though you have to You stand a little bit about the House of Representatives, one of the two houses of Congress, ones, the Senate ones. The House of Representatives and Webster's defines yes to deal with the house is: is that the founding fathers invented the house or establish? Let's say the house to be a much more supportive of the moment. Reactive, fair,
ultra democratic group of governing body, and that its only every two years and the idea was to come. Lotta turnover, then really Guenaud Khazars hundred thirty five of them had them really really tied to their constituents right. So it's just a super fair way four things that really matter to you on a smaller level are heard as opposed to the Senate, which, as you know, far far fewer rights, and there are a couple of ways they did this whole one. Like you said, elections are held, every two years, all Congress people are up for reelection every two years and there their elected directly by the people they represent right and when they started. I think there are sixty five seats in the house,
and by one thousand nine hundred and twelve. I think it was up to four hundred and thirty five and I think they added seats because they established the House of representatives to to represent a set proportion of population population. So each congressperson represents one chunk of a Erica from their state right. So the larger and larger America grew the more more Congress people you needed finally, in nineteen twelve, we can't do say more risk in it. If you have too many Congress, people they're going to unite, can it be able to do any you're just going to be done readily right, so they kept it at four hundred and thirty five, and that does something it's it. It means that if you have a state that keeps growing because it's like America stop growing population in nineteen twelve, so as your population keeps growing, that means there is one say, keeps growing proportionately speaking, that music
Their state is smaller. Whether people move from that state to the other larger states, the other larger sages by contrast, attracted more people. That means that the smaller state or the one they didn't crows, much is going to actually lose congressional seats and that the bigger sea or the bigger state that wanted to growing were actually gain congressional seats. Because, again, a Congress purser represents a set amount of the american public from Homestake in right now it's about so I think the average is seven hundred and eleven thousand people is how many people are a congressperson represents in the? U S today. And they did this through was called the Re Apportionment ACT of nineteen, twenty nine, which basically set up or eight years. Automatic system. Now, every ten years we do a census and
just redistribute and allocate seats according to that census. Every ten years and, like you said for growing, we're gonna nip some away from the places that aren't growing or a shrinking, and it was you know it seemed like a pretty fair way to run. Distributing allocate these these seats. It is extremely fair, sir, Brazil, you got like Montana there. The whole state has one congressional district that represents about a million people were as New York State has, which is a third of the size of Montana. Has twenty seven can correct congressional districts and hence ceasing Congress right? It's a very fair system here the problem, when the Census Bureau figures out all these figures- and they say will this state actually should get to New Congress People- and you know this
They should lose one in another state loses when they have to re, draw the maps of the state to show what these new districts are, because population is shifted every over the ten years since the last senses. So you have to update the maps to make that. The there each congressperson is representing roughly the same number of people, and so everybody is accounted for again, make sense right, yeah The problem came in when they were very vague as far as the rules, withdrawing these boundaries. It says something like geographically can geographically contiguous compact and shape roughly equal population. All these things are subjective. So when partisan politics become involved, the people that redraw these maps, it seems can't help themselves but be like if we
move over Tin box this way and like a couple of miles that way and shape it like this, which looks really weird. But hey. That's! Ok, because these rules are vague. Then we, you know, even though there may be a majority of one party, we could still win. If we draw this thing. The right way right, like the big problem with the whole process for apportioning the House of Representatives seats, is that they left in each state The dominant political party, who happened to be in power at the time when the the majesty to be wrote, Redrawn, it was left up to them. Israel over society, they learn. There's no. Say whatsoever and the whole premise of it was well. Ok, the vote, we'll see what they're doing will vote those guys out. The problem is, if you control the congressional maps, you can draw them in such a way that even the voters can vote you out, and this is gerrymandering- and this is the currency,
to politics right now and has been for a very long time. Actually, we ve been gerrymandering for a while, but again, like I said, supposedly it's gotten way. Worse in the last decade, yeah alright, I'm a little worked up already. The up you ve got a interestingly your crying blood China. But it's not helping. You can take a little break and maybe let's jump back and talk to history, if that's all right with you, I would love that and then we will go forward in time to study the current mess that were in right after this, new year's resolutions are very very difficult to keep getting
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we'll go to the post office again, all right, we're in the way back machine yeah, it's seventeen. Eighty eight Virginia ratifies its ratifies: the constitution of the? U S and former Governor Patrick Henry convinces his state legislators. The region, the fifth congressional district to force his foe James Madison, run against James Monroe. Does he figured he could easily when it backfire on em Edison came out on top, but this kind of kick started at the onset. Of our founding in our country in the constitution that the process of Jerry
entering, even though at that point it was quite known as gerrymandering it now it was it was known as gerrymandering after I think, ate the 1820s, I believe, and the governor of Massachusetts Elbridge Gerry one thousand, eight hundred and twelve one thousand eight hundred and twelve Albert Jerry, who was he was the Governor Massachusetts right correct. He came up with a map that he drew to help keep his party. The Democrat Republicans, I think, with democratic Republicans, Bianca using right, but he drew a map that was just important. It was just so clearly part. Is it and drawn just to keep his his party in power in Massachusetts, but I think the Boston Gazette published a picture of this map and proclaim that it looks like a salamander
and so they said this isn't a salamander. This is a gerrymander which is a million times worse because its politically toxic and a lizard I'd love that little tidbits That's where the name came from guy had never had any idea, but let's Gerrymandering came from not a pretty word, but it definitely roles of the tongue, liquor oil. So it grew to be a very common practice in very blatant and Congress at one point early on in eighteen, forty to try to get an under control with that apportionment act that I talked about, and that said you know those vague things like withdraw leasing as contiguous and compact as possible, but it is apparently one is against. The rules were so vague and outline in such nebulous manner
There was no way to enforce it, such that at one point they carved out two separate states, north and South Dakota. The Republican can control Congress, so they could get more. It's in the Senate. Yet the time, if you were a state, you had three electoral college votes. The matter you size or anything like that and they Dakota Territory's were Republican Lee so they're probably can sit hey you guys welcome to the union and by the way we're going to carve you into two states, and now we have six electoral votes rather than just the three. If you were one big state, yeah pretty clever, pretty sneaky sis
So one thing that this article- I think this is a Patrick Cairo to go. I think it's smart to point out is that this is not just a republican technique. This has been done throughout history by both the parties, both the two main parties, the Democrats and Republicans, apparently also the democratic Republicans and two to the same effect. Witches were drawing these maps to make sure that you guys dont, have a fighting chance. The next congressional elections right, I did some digging noakes. I was curious about these days. I coup it's interesting. As you can say, who is worse.
With gerrymandering or more correctly, maybe who is better at gerrymandering, should as far as getting it pushed through more and every political science and mathematician will tell you that across the board, sort of Republicans are either better at it or doing it way more or that the the recent elections over the last, I think, like three or so have have favoured the g o p in ways that they ended for something like twenty extra seats that they would have otherwise had had the maps not been gerrymandered yeah. Neither even some of these, I think Marilyn was one case where, even though Was it Maryland where the Democrats held like of fifty two percent majority? Yet yet they, the maps are drawn in such a way that they would have to get like at eight to ten point. Oh I'm sorry. This was constant. Yet was content
eight to ten point victory in order to overcome those gerrymandered maps. Yeah, which is its stock gonna happen because Wisconsin is pretty close to beings down middle yeah and that's actually a really good example of the modern gerrymandering. That's going on, like Patrick Kyar points out when you think it Jerry manner in this kind of thing you think of like guys, like in a backroom smoking, cigars and like black poking each other in the chest say in this way. This is my district in you and you can have this one, that kind of thing, but has actually like there very specialised political consultants who go around the country after each Sensus and help states draw their maps and their there. They do so with like really sophisticated software that has like block level census. Data till I just liked by the block the people who live in a block making carved out like that, so that they can more accurately create these maps and then
when they create these maps? They concrete dozens as many as you want and where they, when they use them as a model, they can feed them into their their computers and run a simulation of future elections. Based on this map, it's crazy and then they can. This is why has gotten so bad and then they can adjust this block out what happens if we take this block on put this one in instead and now all of a sudden will win for the next ten years and they have is this map and the reason I started talking about Apparently was content? Has a map, that's in effect right now? That is so well done that, even if the the Democrats get fifty two percent of the vote stay wide. The Republicans we'd still control sixty seats in the in the state assembly that they would not lose
seats whatsoever, even if the democratic at fifty two percent of the liver yeah and I'm the one kind of on the one thing we're gonna stay. And even though there have been any real repercussions yet is that one political scientists said it's getting so sophisticated, though and their drawing these maps in such a weird way, that you can then go back and look and say, this is clearly an outlier, because the thing looks like Sidewinder rattlesnake across the state, and that is neither contiguous or compact, and it's just so obvious. What's going on
because you're using these computer programs to just distort these maps to your favor- and this is where I just get so burned up on both sides, because its edges completely subverts the process in place, which is you are supposed to be able to vote for the person that represents you in that vote. Count. I'm glad you said the man, because as absolutely true this is that, like lip service like both sides to it, so were mad about it. No like this is. This is genuinely like. Neither side of this of should be doing this. This is Eve inherent flaw in the political system that, back in the day when things were different, we
get along with it. It was a stumbling block. It was kind of a kind of hamstrung the democratic process. Some now with a couple of things, it has gone into hyperdrive like so many things have legs like normal political weirdness, put through certain filters like incredibly powerful computer programs that just Hyper Taylor things like this. That's a big problem. The other problem is the the polarization of politics to it. Three there hasn't been for well over a century or so that has made gerrymandering all the worse, because before you gerrymander. All you want, but there were such things as modern Democrats immoderate Republicans, and if it was a reasonable piece of legislation, they would cross the Ile DE vote, for they would break rank
That does not exist anymore. If you're a moderate, the ten within the last ten years, wealthy interests basically carved you out, they created they created upstart political parties to run against you in the primaries, so you would lose your seat or your day No convention would collude with their favorite candidate against you, there's no middle any longer. So the fact that their did put the current political power, whoever is in charge of that state, can gerrymander makes it all the worse because it just makes those divisions even deeper, because the parties get what they want. One way or the other there's no middle ground anymore, so gerrymandering is becoming real, real problem in the twenty first century. While yet- and it's just the other thing- a burned me up as is suggested a smack in the face of the average
Edison yeah, it's been done behind closed doors, with zero thought to jeez. What is his country supposed to be about the initial? It just really burned me up there a report last year by the European Centre for justice in this just really kind of shows exactly what's going on. It's not like. We needed this proof, but almost all gerrymander districts in this country or in seven states, Michigan North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio taxes in Virginia and Texas. I'd, one of those other states have in common with one another, I dont know they're the same states. Oh yes, yes, the swing states, have been lost as a result of gerrymandering. Her get out those those seven states are where these remanded, gerrymander districts are happening and they're all swing states is just like it.
Literally they're, going in and targeting. How can we rig this thing as much as possible right? This? Just is disgusting pus also, the next time you hear a politician talk about the founding fathers in what they want is in their view of everything like this. This run so far a foul of what the framers of the constitution we're looking for when they found when they establish the House of representatives its its mind, boggling, like that, you're, probably generating usable energy through the spinning in their graves. That's going on right now, because they cry the house will represent a brute representatives so that there would be, like you said, shook turn over you every couple years that they were the pulse of the people there. They were,
elected directly by the people. They were meant to be the voice of the people at any given time and the fact that gerrymandering has has been allowed to go on like this has meant. That means that there are safe seats. Now say where you can reasonably expect the party and maybe even a single politician- to hold onto for a decade or more yet, which is not how supposed to be in the house. No, and I saw that these is in the? U S and in congressional races, maybe a hundred, of the four hundred and thirty five seats are actually competitive. Races. The rest have been so firmly made safe through gerrymandering over the years. That they're not even competitive anymore either that one candidate or their one party is going to control that that day, I do see another trick of blood coming out of your eye, this one so taken other break in, gonna get come back and start up with the two main, mere
Gerrymandering techniques read after this let me yo you about people who love talking and always want to deploy, in a nutshell, PETE played since he was three and big. His mom to let him stay on the ice. Why some nights he even slept in his happy skates PETE practiced in practice to one day when he was forty, seven feet realized. He just wasn't that good, so he threw his gates in the trash but then he heard how Geico proud partner of any Joe could save him money on car insurance. So he switched and saved a bunch. So it all worked out. All right,
I promised talk of techniques. You hear gerrymandering and redrawing maps there, a couple of ways that you can do this there called cracking and packing, Cracking is when you, when you scatter the political supporters across a lot of different districts. So that they just never get a majority in any of em like. Let me just make it up this way for a mild and back down here, pretty much know that they're not gonna, get a majority and we're gonna win the unknowns called packing and that's when they jam everyone into just a few districts, and essentially just fine, we're gonna lose those districts,
we're gonna, win overwhelmingly everywhere else. The majority of the other districts, so we're gonna be fine right and cracking packing to sound. Like a political, consoling came up with those to explain it, a legislator in it they pray photos like the most clever. You know right it, it rhymes even right. So here's the thing with that right: you can. You can use those techniques in a couple of different ways, but but with the advent of those same computer programs that that can crack people are packed people more efficiently and of all different maps or whatever you can use the same ones, to kind of expose that kind of thing right, and so you can actually with those same computers. I think you're saying you can use to
to expose this kind of stuff and that that political scientist you mentioned not George Nicholas stuff and apple is- is distant cousin, I looked, I dont think they're related. Now, nothing so either will leave it or not by the by Nicholas Duff and Apple is came up with the that efficiency percentage, and what you do chuck as you. Let's say that we have and here's the power I confused everybody ready. Yet, as we know this ok get so. Let's say that you have five districts and you have ten people in a district in theirs is two parties. I'm already lost you'll get a number I've got I've got. I allow me to start our discouraged out the oldest starting a new when you pack a district, meaning you take. Basically a huge chunk of the other party supporters and men put him into one or two districts. What you're doing is,
Like you said you're giving up those districts, you know you're gonna lose em, but his long There is only a couple in the larger scheme of things. As far as Congress is concerned, you're actually come out on top, because you're gonna win more because you ve packed Oliver the opposition in just a couple of districts right. So in any one of those districts, you have some wasted votes. You have your people's wasted votes, because you're gonna have some people who live in the district and their vote cannot possibly change the outcome of those districts elections near so their votes are literally where they call wasted votes. You also have some of that. The opposition's people votes, because all they need is the majority of the vote or the most votes and they're gonna win, but whatever the goes over that fifty one percent- that's wasted votes to so there's a bunch of wasted votes in there and then, similarly, with cracking,
you dilute the other parties, voters and you pack, a man with your people, but you have way more people. Their votes are wasted and you got some people whose votes are wasted either. So if you take all the wasted votes in estate, gym together, subtract them from one another and then divide that by a hundred you've got what's called this efficiency percentage, and it's actually or usable number that when you look at it shows you very clearly which party is favored. Is it negative or a positive percentage and it will show you who's favored in their they're, trying to come up with a rule of thumb. Now that says that anything over a seven percent efficiency percentage is, is basically undemocratic and should be outlawed yeah that wasn't too confusing was no not at all here, something that doesnt confusing at all, listen gerrymandering, this
mine blowing the dares allowed certain states have counted prison populations as part of these efforts redraw these districts. Even though prisoners cannot vote there not eligible, So there's a ward in Ireland as fourteen hundred residents, thirteen hundred of whom are prisoners and that counts and only a few, a few states so far have ever ruled it unconstitutional and the rest are just playing ball right and by doing that, you give those hundred that can vote a way more power because you're, actually their vote, is the opposite of diluted. It's concentrated by the addition of that non voting, block yeah and again all this is happening because, from the beginning, political political parties are in charge of doing this and the only thing that's
stop. This is because I would think any sensible, reasonably intelligent American would say. This is bad for democracy, no matter which party is doing it and the only way to to possibly break this up is to have non partisan commissions in charge of redrawing. These maps we have an supposedly they try there in Canada. I guess they had ramping gerrymandering in the sixties. They said or done you political parties can be trusted with this. Any work has chuck it's as simple as that. There's no reason to put it any other way. Neither of the political parties can be trusted with this very very important task, shit that they just proved it both of em over and over again and in Canada. In the sixties. They finally just came out and set it and put their foot down, and they created a non partisan, unelected Commission,
who's in charge of drawing all the maps for all the districts in the whole country yeah. They tried it so far in six states, California, Arizona, Washington, Idaho Jersey- in Hawaii have passed. Control two commissions in these these maps don't even need approval final approval from governors or state legislators, but apparently even there, like these people report by somebody. So it's it's even hard. Clean it up then, and they ve shown that so far like in California. I mean it It hasn't swung in the elections. It has made some of them closer. Some.
Maybe it's working a little bit. It sounds like it that I think that point is worth making. Yet what did the elections that historically we're not closer closer yeah, they sure Darrell? I say I used to get like sixty three percent of the vote has already gone two dozen ten, and once they instituted these non partisan commission maps into doesn't sixteen he's. He got just he got. He got a margin of less than one percent yeah so like he had a twelve percent drop in votes once they they change. These maps that significant to me yeah. So maybe it hasn't, swung an election in California yet. But that could be a sign that if we continue to do this a good work right, but you would think chuck okay. So if this is just such obvious, like Anti constitutional, anti democracy, skulduggery, of course, the soup
Courts gonna have something to say about this right. Yeah, that's passwords, gotten really weird this year. Is that there's a case gill, verses Whitford that I believe was did the Supreme Court to say: they're, not even gonna, hear it yeah. They actually it back down to the lower courts on a technicality saying that the people involved hadn't shown that they have standing right because they hadn't been directly harmed by it right and they said you go prove that your vote was actually wasted because of a jury, Mandarin Map which actually wouldn't be that hard to do these days. In and let us other lower court rule on it, and maybe we will hear it next time, but they ve been punting on it
I mean I endorse the where political system works on that thing subvert that, but it seems that at some point we as a nation should be able to come together and say: hey come like money in the dark money and stuff. I can we just clean this up, but here's the thing chuck if you got gerrymander maps, even if everybody turns against the put the dominant political party, you have to have like sixty percent of the vote. A massive voted Very voter turnout was like sixty percent of the vote. Voting against you to actually overwhelm the gerrymandering there that that these these maps producer the the political tenacity that these gerrymandered maps produce- and you just don't have that. If what you could do it with that, but it it's just, as is the current political reality. Is it's just not gonna happen in so as long as they're allowed to keep these maps, whoever is in power
whenever they reach all the maps actually gets to hang onto it. Yeah- and this is just another example of like feeling powerless because it is being decided- among very few people in these closed door sessions and they d I'm sure they often very clever and other taking advantage of the system by right in front of ups stupid faces and and this pre court to not swinging On the one hand it's like come on, but on the other hand, a lot of times we don't really want necessarily activists. Justices depends on the topic:
probably the issue and how you feel about it right, but they there they have a long history of saying, that's political, that's not constitutional! You guys go handle it yourself, but one thing I saw as an explanation for why the Supreme Court has yet to get involved is because there's no standard for what constitutes a day congressional or estate district map. There's no standard that the Supreme Court can look at and say this is the standard, This doesn't live up to the standard. Therefore, we're gonna rule this way. So that's why they haven't done that, but they tend more often than not to uphold maps very are you and frequently do they overruled and there is like a whole spate of maps from Texas North Carolina Maryland and was concerned that they basically said yet they're fine. Whatever and a Texas. They demonstrated that these gerrymandered maps had been used to dilute the voting power of Hispanics who live in Texas in the majority of Texas. Now
they, the maps have been John specifically with the purpose of of diluting their voting power, which goes and against the Voting Rights ACT of nineteen sixty five, that's one thing they say like you can mess with minorities, voting rights right and for a long time they said, while that includes gerrymandering well, Neil Gore, such in Clarence Thomas, are both starting the. I guess the in this most recent one from I think Texas. They added on their own opinion, saying we don't they. The voting Rights Rights ACT actually prohibits there and I think racial gerrymandering is totally fine under the law, which is a big problem. So then go back in a minute act, a yeah! You could do that, but again you have to overcome the gerrymander were exactly manage. What is it what's the snake that AIDS had stale? What's it called the arab world,
This is a Aurora Borealis, the twenty Eightth District of Maryland policies. What you call it what it looks like a depressing her yeah, there's, there's one more thing too: it has been used actually due to the opposite effect, to rethink during the first Bush administration. They were really big on drawing maps that that were called affirmative gerrymandering, which may, sure that majority minority, meaning that areas where most of the people there were minorities, that they had very very strong. Voting power that it was where they were out of their way to reflect it may actually over reached in that way to in, and sometimes the courts would throw those out. But there is scant both ways for sure throughout history, but it just needs to stop entirely began. People are able to actually vote or be represented in Congress like they should be here. You got anything else now
the blood his crusted up nicely, and I get my eyes and here you settle down how haven't worked. Listen to you were- and I was glad of clear- everybody should be worked up about this one- the every body. If you want to know more about gerrymandering, will look up this article on how this works is pretty good, since this is pretty good, it's time for legitimate call this. This is very sad, but I'm trying to get the word out to Asia to a listener here for listener, guys after a six year battle, my father passed away this week from a m l acute my Lloyd leukemia and only sixty five years old the middle of a struggle. However, he was able to achieve about two years of remission with the help of a bone marrow stem cell treatment, while the treatment ultimately failed. His remission gave him two more years,
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Transcript generated on 2020-01-05.