To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Observercast

Why Gerrymandering Could Get Way Worse

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BY ROBERT REICH

Republicans are gerrymandering themselves into entrenched minority power, unless we stop them now.

What’s really different about this redistricting cycle is that Republicans have become much more proficient at figuring out exactly how to design gerrymandered districts to minimize Democratic voters and maximize Republican voters.

For the first time in 50 years, Republican legislators are free to effectively minimize the power of racial minorities. Now bear in mind, in 2019 the Supreme Court made it very clear that if there is racially motivated gerrymandering, that is illegal under the Constitution under the 14th Amendment. But that left open partisan gerrymandering. And the fact of the matter is that most people of color are Democratic voters.

It doesn’t matter whether you actually show or prove racial intent; that’s what the Republicans are doing.

If there was ever a demonstration of the power of gerrymandering to actually suppress the votes of people of color, you don’t have to look beyond Texas. In Texas, you’ve got about 40% of the electorate that’s white and about 40% of the electorate that’s Hispanic. But if you look at actually the congressional districts, fewer than one-fifth are majority Hispanic because of gerrymandering. Hello?

What we have here is a system – we might call it entrenchment. If you look at Wisconsin or North Carolina or Georgia or any of these key swing states, these states are all becoming more and more Democratic, capital “D.” But Republicans are radically gerrymandering so they can stay in power. As they gain more and more power and grab it from majorities, disproportionately people who are Black or Hispanic, they’re able to not only take over a legislature, they also can take over the electoral machinery.

And in the next election, they can simply declare that the will of the majority is not going to be observed, or that most of the votes are not going to be counted, or some other way of rigging – and this is rigging – an election that further entrenches their status.

Look, we have to have national minimum voting standards, but in order to be passed, they need to be passed by 60 votes in the Senate because of the Senate filibuster, which means that the only way they’re going to get passed is if the filibuster has a carve out.

I mean the choice ahead is very, very clear: it’s either the filibuster or it’s our democracy. It comes down to that.

Robert Reich’s latest book is The System: Who Rigged It, How To Fix It. He is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the 20th century.