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General News    H2'ed 10/3/17

Mayday October 3 at SCOTUS: Political Gerrymandering on Trial

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"Those who create a problem can't fix it."--Albert Einstein as quoted by Arnold Schwarzenegger

"It is time to terminate gerrymandering!" former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told a crowd of about 100 activists today in front of the SCOTUS building once the case Gill v. Whitford had been argued within. He was one of several Republicans, mostly retired from office, who oppose this form of corruption; (John McCain and John Kasich (OH SoS) are the active GOP supporters) who had joined ranks with Democrats and independents to support ending this partisan/racist practice that involves "redistricting" throughout the country, especially in battleground states. Tthe goal is to "pack" and "crack" electoral districts, at the federal and state levels, to guarantee that Democrats, for the most part, are packed into a few districts and diluted ("cracked") over others so that in most cases Republicans control them.

There was about an hour and a half of rallying as the case was being argued, with speakers including U.S. representatives from Wisconsin, New York, Oregon, Florida, Michigan, and California. Sponsors included Common Cause, RepresentUs, and the Center for American Progress (CAP) Action Fund.

Rep. Tom Swazi, first to speak, noted that there are 400 "safe" seats in the House of Representatives out of 435. A "safe" seat contains an incumbent guaranteed reelection unless "primaried," a rare occurrence (it happened to Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) in 2012 when two blue Cincinnati districts were combined into one). On average 10 percent of the populace vote in primaries, he said.

We need competitive seats. . . . Don't underestimate the power of the people!

Hey, hey, ho, ho--gerrymandering has to go!

Tired of your tampering! Stop your gerrymandering!

When politicians choose, the voters always lose!

Several of the speakers mentioned yesterday's Las Vegas massacre that killed at least 59 people and injured more than 520--one context, of course, was the need for the background check requirement wherever guns are sold. Will Congress do anything about it? asked the only GOP speaker at the protest, former U.S. Rep. David Jolly (R-FL). He referred to James Madison's warning in the Federalist Papers #10 against factionalism (George Washington also warned against it in his farewell speech in 1796). Candidates will have to speak to those independent voters who comprise fully one-third of the country, rather than just the battleground areas.

Rachel Brewer, of RepresentUS, said that distrust of the government serves the self-interest of political parties. Of course, gerrymandering alienates voters who lose faith in the system. Gill v. Whitford represents the first time in 15 years that the issue has been argued in SCOTUS. She's heard from 25,000 members of her organization. "Shout like the future depends on it!" she exhorted.

What do we want? Representation! When do we want it? Now!

Rise up! Shout back!

Oregon U.S. Rep. Richard Blumenthal noted that 15 years ago there was more competition in Iowa than in four of the most populous states in the U.S. for the simple reason that Iowa had an independent commission doing the redistricting rather than its state legislature, which in most of the country is in charge, sometimes with the assistance of outside commissions. Since then the situation has deteriorated with the advent of computerized gerrymandering and survey research. [A few states have nonpartisan independent redistricting commissions, including Arizona and California, and five others have bipartisan commissions--Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Jersey, and Washington State).

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Marta Steele is an author/editor/blogger who has been writing for since 2006. She is also author of the 2012 book "Grassroots, Geeks, Pros, and Pols: The Election Integrity Movement's Nonstop Battle to Win Back the People's Vote, (more...)

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