Gerrymandering and hearing what an expert says

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I went to a meeting of the Radnor Democrats and there were so many nice, intelligent, dedicated, hopeful people there that it made me wish I liked people more. That's something I'm going to work on, liking people despite their limitations, and getting people to like me more despite my intellectual handicaps.


Anyway, gerrymandering was a hot topic because of what had happened in North Carolina, that voting boundaries had been deemed to be unacceptable. And I learned that Pennsylvania is one of the most gerrymandered states in the country and that our supreme court recognized this recently, but decided that the remedy would be worse than the cure, but now will be forced to reexamine the issue, which might put the May 15 elections at risk, since candidates might end up in districts that aren't the one's they're registered in. What a mess.


Then Daylon Leach, a man of integrity, in my humble opinion, a man who has amazing recall, and is one of the best public speakers I've ever witnessed, a man of wit and intelligence, who has been attacked for making some off-color comments, and asked to step down, which would make anybody who doesn't spit out pabulum unworthy of public office, spoke about the issue.


Basically what he said is that our system is insane on all fronts. The way computers are being used to draw boundary lines to assure the continued control of legislatures by both parties (and there's no question that in recent years Republicans have done more of this because they lack the numbers to win fairly) makes a mockery of free and fair elections. As Daylon said, the state constitution makes it clear that voting districts respect communities, and the present carved up map looks like a collage of Roursach? tests. He said that no matter how this plays out, the justices have made clear that the future should look more like squares and rectangles.


Party affiliation is not a reason to contest a gerrymandered district, since party affiliation is not deemed to be an unassailable trait, such as race. So when asked why a certain, black community wasn't kept in a Republican county, the argument isn't racial, it's voter registration. The purpose of redrawing these maps is to give back to the voters the power of their vote in local elections particularly, but also on the national level since these districts affect the election of representations on the electoral college.


As Daylon pointed out, the big problem we face isn't gerrymandering, that's just the tip of the iceberg. The big problem is governance, and how we get people so focused on affiliations to reach across the aisle. The big problem is money in politics that require candidates to prove their legitimacy not with ideas, but with the amount of money they've raised. It's like Trump saying his wealth is proof that he's a stable genius. I guess Tesla must have been an idiot then in comparison.          


mark henry smith Added Jan 10, 2018 - 3:29pm
I guess it should have been, the remedy would be worse than the disease, but I liked, The Cure. We're in deep doo-doo people. Computers are running so many things and a computer is only as ethical as the person who programs it, or the Russian who hacks into it. 
Dave Volek Added Jan 10, 2018 - 4:21pm
I have heard some theories on why gerrymandering occurs.
Ostensibly, the parties are trying stack the deck in their favor. If a certain neighborhood is 70% R, one strategy is to stack with other R neighborhoods to create a super R district that is unlikely to ever go D. But that would dilute neighboring districts to favor D's. If one district is 75% R and 25% D, and four districts are 55% D and 45% R, stacking the R's would ensure more D's and than R's.
But the 70% R neighborhood is split, this would dilute the R influence in this central district, but increase the chance of Rs getting elected elsewhere.
To me, this stacking and splitting to gain advantage is illogical. I believe the districts are gerrymanders to ensure emcumbant R's and D's stay elected, so they make deals with each other when the lines are redrawn. That's my hypothesis.
Flying Junior Added Jan 11, 2018 - 3:57am
Said practice is nothing new.  Logically a congressional district would be a geographic nexus of cities, towns and villages that share a common lifestyle and self-identify as neighboring communities.  City Council districts might be delineated in a similar fashion.  If an unbiased cartographer or another politically disinterested party simply drew the most obvious and reasonable districts we would hopefully have a just grouping of neighboring communities.
But it's when you start to play with this power like a gambling institution tries to stack the odds in favor of the house that things take a more ominous turn.  Take a sure democratic seat or a sure republican seat.  That's the heart of the matter, isn't it?  We certainly have enough examples of that.  In California, the urban and beach communities can be counted on to vote democratic.  The rural and farming communities will tend to vote republican whether they are wealthy or working class.  In the great Southern States, cities like Austin, Nashville and Atlanta can be depended upon to vote liberally while the rural areas are solidly conservative.
I'm going to guess the trouble begins when clever people, with the help of computers, take away a few democratic or republican voters from one district, but not so many as to jeopardize the sure seat, if you follow.  Then they can add in those small blocks and neighborhoods of republican or democratic voters to a swing district and tilt it in their favor.
Of course, I speak only in theoretical terms.  In practice it is only the wicked republicans who are doing this.  :>)
Flying Junior Added Jan 11, 2018 - 4:01am
Vous avez raison.  Pennsylvania is the first state to come up when one googols how gerrymandering works.
mark henry smith Added Jan 11, 2018 - 2:00pm
Both parties have done this. Maryland is an example of democrats using party affiliation to draw lines that guarantee a majority in the legislature. That party affiliation has not been a reason to have lines redrawn sounds odd, but party is not a unchangeable attribute. There is some question about the state line of Pennsylvania we have to be redrawn. It's become an enormous problem.
And where did ex-con Marko go? Glad I made a copy. Wanted to see Michka's response to my asking if I could have one of his eyes instead of an arm. And all I get is deleted.   
Flying Junior Added Jan 23, 2018 - 4:05am
I just read about the victory in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court today.
wsucram15 Added Jan 23, 2018 - 8:51am
MHS...Martin O'Malley did that redistricting of the 6th district in MD, such an upstanding guy.  That case has now joined SC case of Wisconsin gerrymandering.   So we shall see what they decide.
Also congrats on the win at State level.  There are more to come.
mark henry smith Added Jan 23, 2018 - 1:51pm
This problem exists on all sides of the political spectrum, this win-at-all-costs mentality, that not only flies in the face of decency, flies in the face of the very constitutions these politicians were sworn to uphold. It says in the state constitution of Pennsylvania that district maps should be drawn with consideration of community (paraphrasing) and as Daylon Leach said, districts have been drawn like Rorshach? tests carving districts into slices of political connection. This is a win for democracy.
But now everything is in flux for the May primary elections since candidates don't know what their districts will be. The deadline or drawing the new maps is February 19, I do believe, by the legislature or the courts will step in and do it. Not much time, but as a guy said this morning on NPR, with the computer programs they have now, not impossible.
And another one bites the dust, that's Pat Meehan, an all-around nice guy, by all accounts from his colleagues, who just wanted a little, young pussy, perhaps, but then settled a complaint with a non-disclosure agreement at his insistence so the details wouldn't hurt his career, and then made payments with taxpayer dollars. Nice guy, my ass.     
Flying Junior Added Jan 24, 2018 - 4:05am

The reason why Republicans do not want blacks in their districts is that Negroes do not vote Republican.
Cut right to the heart of the matter.  Good for you.  Just who determines which districts belong to the republicans?
The black leaders in Congress are nothing but pimps and hustlers who love to blame white Republicans for all of their problems even though many of the problems Negroes suffer from are self inflicted-the result of bad behavior, poor decision making and a willingness to wallow in a perpetual sate of grievance, victimization, self pity and entitlement.
You're not a little kid.  Right-wing hate propaganda is not a sugary breakfast cereal.
It is perfectly reasonable for Republicans not to want to have anything to do with Negroes given their ignorance, stupidity and lack of political sophistication-not to mention their propensity for committing crimes, bearing children out of wedlock, creating dysfunctional families, exalting rap stars and criminal athletes, not respecting middle class standards of speech, morality and behavior.
That's all one sentence?  Good spelling, bro.
The Republicans do not owe the Negro a damn thing. Let Negroes clean up their own cultural corruption and get rid of the ignorant leaders they elect to Congress before they blame everyone else for their misfortunes.
That's the whole problem.  Before Trump, republicans did not self-identify as racists.  Goddammit fuck you.
Bill Kamps Added Jan 24, 2018 - 10:19am
To me, this stacking and splitting to gain advantage is illogical. I believe the districts are gerrymanders to ensure incumbent R's and D's stay elected.
The districts are gerrymandered to determine the outcome, so the districts are not really contested.  It may be that one party or the other gains a seat or two in a large state, but what really happens is the outcome is more predictable. 
Districts dont split 55/45 between the parties, they split more like 40/35/25 with the  25 being independents.  The goal of gerrymandering is to make the independent vote irrelevant.  Thus making the election outcome more predictable. 
One important consequence of gerrymandering, is that it makes the representatives more extreme.  If the independent vote is unnecessary, then the primary is the election, and more extreme left and right candidates can be chosen.  Another cause of this, is that the independents dont participate in the primaries to a large degree.
wsucram15 Added Jan 24, 2018 - 10:32am get it.  Its not just about the parties.