After new census figures are released at the end of every decade, Democrats and Republicans typically begin squabbling over “gerrymandering” — the redrawing of congressional districts.
And depending which side of the political fence one is on, “gerrymandering” could be perceived as good or evil.
The word “gerrymander” was coined in 1812 when Elbridge Gerry — a signer of the Declaration of Independence — was governor of Massachusetts.
One of the districts Gerry designed to ensure that a Jeffersonian would be elected to Congress, reminded Benjamin Russell, the editor of the Boston Columbian Centinel, of a salamander and he called it a “Gerrymander.”
Since that time, “gerrymandering” has been an accepted practice by the political party in power because, as supporters of Democratic President Andrew Jackson proudly proclaimed, “to the victor belong the spoils.”
Throughout most of the 20th century, there were few objections to gerrymandering in political circles. This was particularly true when Democrats controlled the House of Representatives for all but four years between 1933 and 1994.
However, since 1995, with Republicans controlling the majority of state legislatures and governorships, and the House of Representatives more often than not, Democrats have whined that gerrymandering is evil or racist or a violation of voting rights.
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, for example, to sidestep the Republican-controlled state Legislature, Democrats in cahoots with labor unions, spent a fortune to elect sympathetic candidates to the state’s highest court.
Victorious at the polls, the Democratic-controlled court promptly rejected the Legislature’s 2012 redistricting in February 2018 and went on to impose their version of gerrymandering that cost Republicans three congressional seats in the November 2018 elections.
In my home state of New York, gerrymandering had been a way of life for almost two centuries. In 1961, for example, when Republicans controlled Albany, Democrats howled when the GOP cut the lines, calling it “Rockymandering” after Gov. Nelson Rockefeller.
But, in recent years, New York leftists, unhappy with gerrymandering deals between the Republican state Senate and Democratic assembly, filed suits in friendly federal courts that subsequently imposed more Democratic-leaning congressional districts.
To placate dissidents, Albany powerbrokers created, in 2014, an Independent Redistricting Commission that is empowered to draw “objective” maps in 2021.
The so-called independent panel, that was split evenly between Democrat and Republican commissioners, was ridiculed by good-government groups as merely bipartisan veneer because its final recommendations must still be approved by the Democratically-controlled state Legislature.
Blair Horner, executive director of the N.Y. Public Interest Research Group, called the panel’s official process the “Kabuki part of redistricting.”
Well, last month the panel finally spoke and revealed they could not agree. They came up with competing maps that are far from bipartisan. While Republican panelists hope to minimize GOP losses, Democrats look to eliminate four GOP House members.
Due to the impasse, the Democratic state Legislature will now have the power to once again gerrymander districts. What a shock! Now that they have complete control of Albany, redistricting is right and just to protect and enhance Democratic districts and to eviscerate as many GOP seats as possible.
New York Times columnist Gail Collins, has reported that Manhattan Democratic Representative Carolyn Maloney is “angling for changes in her district’s boundaries, so she could bid adieu to young, left and Latino voters from Brooklyn and Queens.” Maloney prefers to expand her lines in Manhattan’s wealthier and whiter Upper East Side neighborhood. What hypocrisy! Where’s the outrage? Where areBLM protesters screaming “racism” and “elitism”?
It gets worse.
Presently, the support of two-thirds of members of New York’s state Legislature is required to approve a redistricting plan. This year that’s not a problem for Democrats.
But to make sure they have control forever, Democrats have placed on the November ballot a proposition that would reduce the voting threshold to 60%. The amendment, Newsday has reported, would also “give constitutional protection to count immigrants in the country illegally as residents when drawing new election districts and to make sure that prisoners are counted as residents of their latest neighborhood, not their prisons.”
“The proposed amendment,” Political Science professor, Shawn Donahue, of the University of Buffalo, has observed, “makes it much easier for Democrats to adopt maps that benefit themselves. With the large legislative majorities, there is little incentive for the Democrats on the commission to cooperate with Republicans, since not agreeing on maps gives Democrats sole power over redistricting.”
Gerrymandering, condemned by leftists as evil for decades, is back in vogue in New York. The rules of fairness and equity do not apply to them when they have the votes.
The dreadful political antics of New York’s Democrats confirm why Plato, Aristotle, James Madison, Alexis de Tocqueville and John Stuart Mill feared a “tyranny of the majority” — such power easily leads to despotism.
George J. Marlin, a former executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is the author of "The American Catholic Voter: Two Hundred Years of Political Impact," and "Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy." Read George J. Marlin's Reports — More Here.
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