If You Want to Take Back Your Government, You Must Learn About Redistricting

by Steve Hartshorne on July 15, 2013

As a person who worked in state government, in my case the New Hampshire Senate, I found there were many aspects of my job that were just too boring and complicated to explain to my friends. One of them was the Settlement Laws. Another was redistricting.

No one is interested in state government in the first place, and I can’t see how that can possibly change. Its workings are so byzantine that for most people the only hope is to elect good people and count on them to do the right thing. Needless to say, that hasn’t worked.

But now it’s really important for the future of the human race, so listen up you young people. If you want to take your country back, you’re going to have to learn about redistricting. Relax. It’s not as hard as calculus.

It’s no skin off my nose — I’ll be long gone — but if you want to do something about a contaminated food supply and a poisoned environment and a frontal assault on voting rights and women’s reproductive rights, you have got to learn about redistricting.

Redistricting is why, in state after state, a majority of voters choose Democratic congressional candidates, but right-wing Republicans control the House of Representatives. Karl Rove understands redistricting, and if you don’t, you’re his bitch. Think about it. Is that disgusting enough for you?

It’s a lot like this: Year after year the Boston Red Sox score more runs than any other team in the American League, but they rarely win the pennant. Even during their legendary collapse in September two years ago, they outscored their opponents. It’s simple. They scored 25 runs in one game and lost 24 games by one run.

To understand redistricting, you must also understand gerrymandering, which originated here in Massachusetts, a state, or rather, a commonwealth, that has always been hopelessly corrupt. Governor Elbridge Gerry became famous for designing electoral district that snaked around from town to town and took the shape of salamanders.

You lump all the opposing voters in one district and give the other guy his 25-run game, and then you take the other 24 by one run.

I was just visiting Asheville, an up and coming progressive city in North Carolina. It’s split right down the middle and each half is lumped in with a lot of surrounding towns that vote Republican.

Here’s the good news: there’s a really smart guy that will help you with this. His name is Joel Rogers. He has started a new organization called ALICE, which is intended to undo some of the harm cause by the corporate funded group ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council).

Back in my day, ALEC had a catalogue of bills for right-wing legislators such as restoring corporal punishment in schools — “Belt the Brats” — or requiring a birth and a death certificate, with a name, for all abortions — “Name the Fetus” — and the ever popular “Stand Your Ground” law, which was instrumental in the acquittal of George Zimmerman.

If you let these people govern your state, you’re George Zimmerman’s bitch, and there’s nothing more disgusting than that.

Take back your state government. Run for office or find a friend who’s a good candidate and run them for school board or city councilor or state rep or state senator. Joel and I will help you and we’re seasoned political infighters. We’ll have your back.

The time is now. As Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban, said to the UN: “Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.” It really is up to you my friends.

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