As the midterm elections for the U.S. Representatives approach, we will soon be inundated by political rhetoric on a grand scale. Fueled by blind ambitions and campaign financing, the ego-driven aspirants will take to stage and media outlets with speeches of grandeur and bombast. They will employ catchphrases, such as “gaslighting,” “revolving door;” “push back the curtain” and references to “cool-aid” and “rabbit holes.” Also egregious names association to: Marx, Trotsky, Axis Sally, Rita Zucca, Chou En-Lai and Pol Pot. You will hear strange sounding words, sometimes very difficult to pronounce or understand unless you are attuned to political jargon, words such as Autocrat, Bureaucrat, Populist, Hawk, Dove, Fascist, Nationalist and last yet not least, the word “Gerrymander.” A term that is associated with the intent and purpose of destroying the foundation of a democracy that we all embrace regardless of party affiliation. A word that future generations will refer to as political profanity.
The origin of the term “gerrymander” can be traced back to 1812, when the governor of Massachusetts – named Eldridge Gerry – devised a plan to manipulate congressional districts geographically, in order to send more members of his party to the US House of Representatives, in an attempt to become the majority. The device has geopolitical complexities. However, rather than dwell on intricate machinations, the simplification of the process is in order. Each State has congressional districts according to the population, each district has an elected representative, the more districts, the more reps. Legislative maps are drawn after each 10-year census. Expanding or shrinking the boundaries, by the party in power is the key factor. Governor Gerry distorted one district on the map that resembled a salamander, hence the term “Gerrymander.” Redrawn districts can be reconstructed by “splitting” or “packing” the constituents, usually affecting minorities, rendering their vote ineffective, mute or “wasted.”
This practice if left unabated will soon allow our beloved democracy to devolve into a Third World Autocracy, ripe for insurrection, led by a “Willie Stark” or “Elmer Gantry” type. Several lawsuits were presented to challenge the ploy, and one, in particular, reached the Supreme Court in the form of a suit tilted “Rucho vs Common Cause.” In one of the most controversial decisions made in the history of the Supreme Court, including “Dred Scott” and “Citizens United,” the court ruled 5 to 4 that federal judges cannot block “Gerrymandering.” This decision in effect allowed each state legislature the path toward the loss of credibility. The floodgates of partisan polarization were opened, and the tentacles of political discourse found democracy to be an easy prey. Complaint without remedy is counterproductive, and a solution may be possible by assigning an independent commission to draw legislative maps. Supreme Court Justices are only human and at times those long black robes they wear allegedly become porous from long use and have lost their “Solomon” perceived wisdom.
In summation, when the time arrives, be sure to rise up off that couch and get out to vote. However, be careful when you fill in that oval; that darkened sphere may result in dire consequences if you had listened to those who will sow seeds of division. Be cognizant of some that advocate Nationalism garnished with the foul rhetoric of Jingoism. Be aware of the Oligarchs who spread “Dark Money” around under the cover of anonymity. Sever ties with those who march to the beat of a different drummer. They chant slogans of discord, division and insurrection that are out of tune with mainstream America. When that kind of political carnage is allowed to flourish, then a Democracy is Under Siege.