What The Fuck, America?


United Statesian politics are full of quirks, almost all of which are inexplicable, particularly in a country which prides itself on being the oldest and most free democracy on the planet, if not in the entire universe. We're going to concentrate on one right now, and that's redistricting.

This is an incredibly, ridiculously complex subject which is in its short form quite simple: A representative democracy needs to group its people into districts for the purposes of representation and someone needs to draw the lines. In any sane democracy the latest mathematics, statistics, and computer algorithms would be used, as part of a transparent process, to create the most equitable districts possible, ensuring the best possible representation of the people and the inarguably most robust democractic institutions.

As Americans, we scoff at such elitism. Instead we have a hodge-podge of systems varying from state to state, and possibly from district to district, vulnerable in many places to the worst excesses of partisan politics and outright skullduggery, because we don't like anything unless there are racist white cowboys swigging whiskey, killing Injuns, and taking their land, because that's the American fucking way. And none of your East Coast tie-wearing libtard edumacation is getting in the way of our despoiling the land and making obscene profits.

What that means is that this great country of ours redraws voting districts after every census, which means every ten years, when nobody's looking, elected officials secretly try to fuck over as many people as possible. And nobody, but nobody, has been as good at this over the past forty years or so as the Republicans. Because back when Nixon was elected and the entire country lost its shit it was clear to the G.O.P. that they were never going to get the power they wanted and needed in the United States if they didn't warp and destroy every rule in every book, and they began a systematic campaign of doing precisely that.

Thus it came to pass that, by the time of the 2010 census, Republicans had managed to get a hold of state legislatures across the country, and they used that position to make certain they would never face a serious election again if they could help it. They redrew the districts wherever they could in the worst ways imaginable, bringing back the specter of Elbridge Gerry and causing his shade to poop its ectoplasmic breeches.

Christopher Ingraham has a good explanation of gerrymandering if you want a visual representation. There are animations and everything. John Oliver covered it, too. Probably some fun stuff there.

Now that you have an idea of what gerrymandering is, and what's at stake during redistricting, you're prepared for the news that Census Bureau director John H. Thompson resigned this week mainly because the Republicans are fucking with the Census Bureau, mostly by bitching about cost overruns and then failing to appropriate enough money. This would be GOP SOP under most circumstances—failing to budget a given governmental office appropriately and then complaining when it doesn't get the job done properly as an excuse to cut the budget further—if it weren't for the fact that the next round of redistricting will rely heavily on a good and accurate census in 2020.

Every Republican voter I've ever met is guilty of wanting to pull up the ladder behind them—from allowing immigration to funding public education to tax credits—but this is some seriously dangerous shit. If we don't want to be run by a Republican junta for the next four generations we'd better get wise.

I'll leave running a Google search on Annabel Chong as an exercise for the reader.

November 2016
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