Monday, October 9, 2017
Week of 10/09/2047
SCOTUS Need To Kill The Gerrymander For Their Own Sake
It was 1812 when then-governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts orchestrated the redistricting of his state in a strange and bizarre way that would ensure his party’s dominance. The writers for the original Boston Gazette newspaper commented that one of the redrawn districts on the map looked like a salamander. With that image in mind, Federalist supporters dubbed the redistricting process “Gerrymandering”. Although Governor Gerry would eventually lose the election, the tactic did work in keeping the Democratic-Republican Party in charge over the state and shutting out the Federalist Party, which was the whole goal of the process.
I’ll let that sink in for those of you who still buy into the bold-faced lie that the Democrats and the GOP have always existed as the only two dominant parties in America.
Although nobody can really pin down who originated the term “Gerrymandering”, it was a process that can be traced going back to the early years of America as part of the bitter feud between Federalists and Anti-Federalists even before the first members of Congress could be elected. But after 1812, that became the name of the tactic that has allowed party bosses to ensure that their will prevails over the voters.
The reasoning behind this is simple: to the victor goes the spoils. Every ten years, federal districts for legislative representation are redrawn according to changes in population, as is required under the U.S. Constitution. But the dreamers and philosophers behind the Constitution never really set down specifics, leaving the process to the dirty, rotten, scheming, corrupt politicians. So it should come to no-one’s surprise when this otherwise simple idea would be corrupted and twisted and turned into a weapon to rig the process in favor of said politicians.
Gerrymandering has been challenged on numerous occasions in the U.S. Supreme Court. Sometimes the justices allow it. Other times they don’t. When both dominant parties orchestrate it, it’s been allowed. When one dominant party does it, the courts have stepped in and said no. Sometimes. Not always.
But now the fate of the Gerrymander is back in the hands of the justices of the Supreme Court. In fact, the whole process is being challenged on both First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment grounds. As of this column’s posting, the justices have already heard arguments for and against the process, and we won’t know how they decided until next year, just in time for the 2018 mid-term elections-slash-screwjob and two years away from the next obligatory census. But this commentator sincerely hopes that the justices euthanize gerrymandering so it can join segregation in the graveyard of despicable practices.
In fact, I would dare say that the justices would have a very good reason why they must kill gerrymandering, and that is to hold themselves to the rationality set by their past decisions.
For countless generations, the justices of the Supreme Court have shot down any attempt to rein in government on the belief that the “ultimate decision” rests with the voters. Term limits, campaign finance reform, and every other attempt to control the abuses of the elected schemers and con-artists and their party bosses have all been shot down by the justices on the belief that the voters would be the “true instrument of control”.
Unfortunately, with gerrymandering, that is just not true.
Gerrymandering rigs the game, much like the legal casinos do to ensure that the house always wins. This is something that our current President of the United States knows first-hand as the former owner of legal casinos. Ironic, since he was the one that campaigned during the 2016 Farce by saying “It’s a rigged system.” Yes, it is rigged, and it keeps getting worse and worse with every election.
So how can the justices of the United States Supreme Court say that the voters are the “ultimate deciders” in the American political process when the actual decision is made by party bosses through their manipulation of voting districts? The recognition that this blatant rigging of the process exists undermines their own decisions. It makes liars of the justices.
Let’s get brutally honest here… gerrymandering, by its very nature, is designed to deny voters their right as the ultimate deciders in government. It manipulates the election process by manipulating districts based on which partisan party would prevail instead of what the voters want. It means that the voters are not the “ultimate deciders” in America; it’s the party bosses. It means that America has never been “a democracy inside a republic”, but instead a passive plutocracy pretending to be “a democracy inside a republic”.
If the justices want any of their past decisions striking down campaign reform and term limits to have any credibility to them, then they have to stand up to the party bosses and the career politicians and kill the Gerrymander. They need to stand up for the idea of “one person, one vote” instead of “one party, all votes”.
There have been cases made in the past for a nonpartisan commission to come up with the districts. While the definition of “nonpartisan” is contentious (the fraud perpetrated by the so-called “Commission for Presidential Debates” quickly comes to mind), it would be far better than left in the hands of corrupt politicians eager to solidify their perceived “entitlement”. After all, there is nothing in the Constitution that spells out how those districts are made. The very reason that allowed gerrymandering can also be used to fix the damage caused by it. But for that process to change, there needs to be a reason. The judicial branch can make that change necessary with just one decision.
Ideally, our election districts would be drawn using a protractor instead of a French curve being wielded by an abstract artist on LSD. But leaving the process in the hands of politicians was our great mistake then, and it remains a great mistake today. The only way to fix that rests with the highest court in the country, presided over by judges that supposedly are no longer beholden to any political party or corrupt party bosses. I would like to continue to believe that they decide things based on the Constitution and not on political ideolog or partisan favoritism. With the gross ineptitude in Congress and the narcissism of the current White House occupant, this country needs to have their last bit of faith with our system rewarded.