The supreme court today essentially kicked the can down the road concerning partisan gerrymandering, which is when politicians (usually the state level legislature) redraw the lines for who’s vote gets counted in what way. What this essentially means for the electorate, is that you can regroup the way votes are counted so that the party you prefer gets an advantage. The supreme court decision is long and complex, but what legal analysts and scholars are saying in the early wake of the decision, is that it delays action, and that the supreme court will not do anything to solve the problem before the 2018 midterm election.
All of this creates a huge problem for America’s already underwhelming voter turnout. The US already trails most of the developed nations in the world in voter turnout, with only 55.7% of the people eligible to vote actually casting a ballot in 2016 (Desilver 2). That’s really bad for our country, as lower voter turnout has been shown to increase partisan radicalization, and basically create a shouting match for the most extreme ideas on both ends of the political spectrum (Steenkiste 2).
CNN contributor David Chalian put it best when he said:
“(Americans are saying:) God, why can’t those people get anything done? It’s just this complete stasis, and we’re polarized, and why is it that members of congress are more concerned about the primaries for their job survival than they are about general elections, and appealing to the broadest possible swath of people in their district or in the country… And its because of the way these districts are drawn: The districts are drawn because democrats want to keep as many democratic seats as possible, and republicans want to do the same, you draw a heavily democratic district, well then the only real contest is between two democrats, because no republican’s going to win this heavily drawn democratic district, and that helps create the polarization because you just have people who are concerned about the left and the right of their party, and not about the center.” – David Chalian (Schuitto).
But there’s just one problem with Chalian’s analysis: Republicans are doing WAY more gerrymandering than democrats. According to a listing of congressional redistricting, the 2012 election net an estimated 13 additional seats for congressional republicans, and democrats only used redistricting to gain 1 seat (Wang 4). This would lead you to believe that however much redistricting was going on in democratic areas, it’s a technique utilized far more by republicans.
You probably don’t vote anyway, so none of this really matters to you. You probably don’t care about or scrutinize what happens in Washington, much less your own local gubernatorial races, and congressional elections. Voting is probably foreign, weird, and boring to you, much less the idea of actually getting out there on the streets and protesting something, or god forbid, organizing a group of concerned citizens with an opinion who will speak in a unified voice to fight for what they believe in. Most people don’t really believe in anything, anyway: they just want play around on their phone, post a few pictures of their dog on Instagram, and see how many likes they can get. Well I’m not one of those people, and you shouldn’t be either. Don’t go outside and hold up a sign, because it’s not nearly as effective as forming a group who will fight to create institutions and checks on political power. Don’t sit back and complain about something on the internet, because your vote is a much louder and more powerful voice than your followers, or your Facebook feed. I’m going to keep writing this blog, which might not be worth a damn, but at least I’m trying to put some thought into the matter at hand, which our lives depend on.
Sciutto, Jim. CNN Breaking News. CNN, David Chalian, Cable News Networks, 18 June 2018.
Desilver, Drew. “U.S. trails most developed countries in voter turnout”. pewresearch.org, Pew Research Center, 21 May 2018, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/05/21/u-s-voter-turnout-trails-most-developed-countries/.
Steenkiste, Paul. “The Effect of Voter Turnout on Political Polarization”. uscommonsense.org, United States Common Sense, 5 Sep 2014 http://uscommonsense.org/research/effect-voter-turnout-political-polarization/.
Wang, Sam. “Gerrymanders, Part 1: Busting the both-sides-do-it myth”. election.princeton.edu, Samuel S.-H. Wang, 30 Dec. 2012, http://election.princeton.edu/2012/12/30/gerrymanders-part-1-busting-the-both-sides-do-i t-myth/.