Gerrymandering and Jim Crow: The Republican Plan to Keep America White

As it is appearing with greater frequency, the commonly used term “gerrymandering” is an unusual practice indigenous but not exclusive to these United States. The odd practice of drawing voting districts in a random shape for a particular party’s advantage is named after Elbridge Gerry, a Massachusetts Governor and the fifth Vice President of the USA under President James Madison. He redrew his own district in the shape of a salamander,

The original “gerrymander” in Massachusettes circa 1812

so in 1812, the idea of gerrymandering was born. This is a legal way of redistricting which is used by both political parties in our country. Unfortunately, in most Republican implementations of gerrymandering, the motives are insidiously racist. No representative historically is unwilling to abdicate power, so the Republicans have gerrymandered their districts to maintain sovereignty over a changing demographic that should technically deem them unelectable. With Machiavellian strategizing, the GOP has continued to maintain control of the House of Representatives which is certainly not of, by and for the people.

With the relevancy of Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) on trial this week, it is vital more people understand exactly what damage the Roberts Court could inflict on our Civil Rights. The unlikely hero of the Affordable Care Act’s landmark decision, Chief Justice Roberts will play a different role in Shelby County v Holder. He will, once again, prove to be a painful reminder of the Bush Administration that appointed him.

This is a fight that’s been near and dear to Roberts’ heart since he was an attorney for the Ronald Reagan Administration. In 1982, Roberts led the fight against the VRA’s Section 2, which prohibits denial of voting rights “on account of race or color.” In the case of Shelby County, a largely white suburb of Birmingham, the number of instances between 1975 and 2007 where election laws were judged to have discriminated on the basis of race occurred 20 times. But I suppose with the election of President Obama, Roberts and his cohorts are purporting the myth that racism is no longer a problem in the areas which Section 5 was designed to protect.

But how does gerrymandering work to the advantage of Republicans and how is it relevant to this latest SCOTUS battle? In North Carolina, where the two-party House vote was 51 percent Democratic, 49 percent Republican, the average simulated delegation was seven Democrats and six Republicans. The actual outcome? Four Democrats, nine Republicans — a split that occurred in less than 1 percent of simulations. If districts were drawn fairly, this lopsided discrepancy would hardly ever occur.

A typical gerrymandered district in North Carolina

Gerrymandering is a major form of disenfranchisement. In the seven states where Republicans redrew the districts, 16.7 million votes were cast for Republicans and 16.4 million votes were cast for Democrats. This elected 73 Republicans and 34 Democrats, not exactly proportional.

Why would Shelby County object to federal oversight? If they don’t plan on reinstating unfair registration requirements, poll taxes, literacy tests and the like, why would it matter if your electoral processes are supervised by the Federal Government? These folks have and always will be proponents of States’ Rights. States’ Rights is code for we are going to allow discriminatory disenfranchisement to proceed unchecked in our jurisdiction and we’d like you all to butt out.

The best example of racially motivated redistricting was evident in the Texas redistricting after the 2010 census. For the first time, the Republican state is populated by a majority of minority residents. However, the final tally redrew Texas to now have 25 congressional districts that lean Republican and 11 that lean Democratic. A representative government is the antithesis of Rick Perry’s racially motivated voting map.

Areas subjected to Section 5 supervision during federal elections

Most of the areas on the map are in the south, but there are a few northern rural areas included, as historically, violations of Section 5 were common. All the evidence we need for determining the necessity of Section 5 was very evident this past election in the voter suppression attempts in Florida and Ohio that were thwarted by federal intervention. The GOP must be stopped because democracy isn’t waiting in line for several hours just to vote. This was a big problem in 2012 where voters in districts heavily favoring minority voters waited as long as nine hours just to cast their ballots.

In a shocking but not uncharacteristic display of racial callousness, extreme right wing Justice Antonin Scalia claimed the Voting Rights Act is a “perpetuation of racial entitlement,” which explains why he found a landmark law preventing race discrimination in voting to be suspicious. Simply by derogatorily using the term “entitlement,” conservatives show the disdain they have for allowing ALL citizens of any color, creed or gender to exercise simple rights which Americans have fought so hard to attain.

This plan may very well backfire on Republicans where Teaparty hard liners dominate the party’s agenda and prevent any candidate with sane and moderate views to win on a national scale. A recent example is Richard Mourdock of Indiana who was the Teaparty’s choice to replace Senator Dick Lugar. However, his insane fundamentalist opinions on rape allowed Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, to win in a Republican-dominated district. By gerrymandering themselves into an ultra-far right platform while the rest of society at large seems to be evolving towards a Progressive agenda, they will eventually redistrict themselves into obsolescence. If SCOTUS acts responsibly and rules against Shelby County, Alabama, it may help drive another nail into the GOP coffin. If the Court decides in favor of a racist, regressive Voting Rights Act violation, things will get very messy for both sides. Those who fought bravely to protect the sacred right of voting (which is not an entitlement), like Representative John Lewis, will not back down from this fight. Whether the GOP likes it or not, progress can not be stopped entirely, but they sure as hell can slow it down which seems to be their only advantage in a battle they are destined to lose.

The GOP Will Never Stop Being the Stupid Party

If one simply analyzes the election of 2012, it’s quite obvious the GOP has an imaging problem; they have lost much of their support due to the changing demographics of 21st century America. I believe February, 2013 was unusually rich with incidents which signal the growing irrelevance of the Grand Old Party, truly an epic month chock full of the increasingly frequent bloopers that illustrate the true character of Republicans.

Trying to gather a manageable list of their latest blunders which purport their claim they are “trying to rebrand the party,” is quite a Herculean endeavor. John Brabender, Rick Santorum’s campaign manager believes their problem is merely in the context of perception, not actual platform. “The perception of our party is, number one, we fight for the rich more than we fight for anybody else. Number two, we fight for the big corporations. And number three, we`re obstructionists to everything.” We’ve got news for you John, this is reality.

The platform and policies the GOP favors have been deviating from the mainstream. The current reality is a dystopian nightmare where the fringe social, political and theocratic factions of the party have literally taken over the asylum. Stupid is actually a very nice way to describe the continued insanity that plagues Republicans nationwide. Bobby Jindal, Louisiana Governor (R) tried to sum it up.

One barely has to search for striking examples which make the word “stupid” seem like the understatement of the year. Psychotic, sociopathic and mendacious are far more apt characterizations of the party that is slowly becoming an embarrassment. The downward spiral began just after President Obama finished one of the most memorable State of the Union addresses and the GOP chose “rising star” Marco Rubio to give his rebuttal. The man they selected, a denier of man-made climate change science, a signer of the Norquist Pledge and a real “patriot” who voted against raising the debt ceiling , clearly represented a party uncomfortable with changing ethnic and social demographics. Most recently, on a trip to Israel, he wrongly identified Jerusalem as the capital merely to pander to extreme right-wing hard liners in both countries.

Former First Lady, Laura Bush came out in support of gay marriage in 2010. However, just this last week, she asked to have her name removed from a gay marriage ad. Once again, a prominent Republican drops the ball and abandons support of an issue which is only increasing in acceptance from the American people.

A GOP Missouri lawmaker shoots at a bill which would make it a felony to possess certain types of assault weapons. Their perversion of the second amendment continues. Watch the video below.

In Iowa (as well as The Dakotas and most Southern States), they are hell bent on criminalizing abortion in the most Draconian ways imaginable. By enacting personhood statutes, Iowa Republicans have introduced a bill that redefines murder to include knowingly “killing” a fertilized egg. This law would lead to the imprisonment of women who have abortions (currently, approximately one-third of women in the U.S. will have an abortion in their lifetime) as well as women who use certain types of birth control that prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg.

Not to be outdone by their ineptitude on women’s and social issues, the GOP has a healthy degree of xenophobia, especially against any possible affiliation with the “great Satan,” Iran. Just linking Hezbollah or Hamas with an Obama nominee would make any Teabagger salivate, so it’s no wonder the intuitive folks at fell for a joke by NY Daily News reporter Dan Friedman. He used a preposterous name like “Friends of Hamas” to sarcastically link Former Nebraska GOP Senator and DoD nominee Chuck Hagel with terrorist groups. Not only did these conservative “journalists” not fact check, they spread this fabrication around the right wing blogosphere. The absurdity went unnoticed and traveled all the way up through the highest ranks, even so far as duping Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Mr. Friedman wrongly assumed everyone could see the obvious satire in his writing. Unfortunately it is a common practice to assign deductive reasoning skills to the fear-mongering, anti-education, anti-science and highly xenophobic members of the American Right.

Teabagging star Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx), the darling of fundamentalists in the Lone Star State, went so far as to link Hagel to Iran directly simply because the nation spoke favorably about a reasonable, non-hawkish defense department leader after so many years of preemptive American wars. This man not only looks like Eugene “Joe” McCarthy, he is already on a witch hunt only two months into his dreaded six year reign of terror. This extremist lunatic will prove to be a hot mess of problems for both America and his party. Naturally, that makes him a star.

Because McCarthyism worked so well the first time. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx)

I focus on Cruz because he is the quintessential obstructionist who embodies every abhorrent quality which will hasten the demise of the once powerful GOP. A recent Salon piece by Steve Kornacki says it best: …conservatives’ appetite for Cruz shows that the GOP base’s animating spirit still hasn’t changed: Loud, aggressive and reflexive hostility to President Obama, the Democratic Party and any Republican who would dare contemplate compromise is still how “conservatism” is defined.

Fast forward to March 29, when the home run of all racial epithets was uttered by former GOP representative Don Young (Alaska). When asked about growing up on a Central California farm, he said, “My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes, it takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.” True, he was not trying to be overtly offensive, it simply eluded him he even said something that is incredibly bigoted because he grew up around that sort of offensive vernacular. He issued an apology stating that there is no place for that type of racial slur in this century. What’s most telling is his time frame of when racist comments are permissible. Was 1999 a time when you could insult an entire group of people without consequence? It appears even the 1950’s is too avant-garde for Republicans and hiding their obvious disdain for minorities is a daunting task.

This legitimacy and relevancy problem only seems to worsen over time. In fact, a Pew Research Poll has concluded only 22% of Americans would label themselves Republican, most hiding behind the guise of the Independent label, for obvious reasons. I doubt the party will go the way of the Whigs, but the infighting between Teaparty hard-liners and so-called moderates violates Reagan’s “11th Commandment,” thou shalt never speak ill of a fellow Republican. I sure enjoy watching the mayhem and it may just expedite their ultimate defeat. I anticipate the 2014 midterms will exacerbate the Republican irrelevancy problems with massive defeats. These anti-government government workers have surely outworn their welcome and their incompetence is finally obvious to the majority of Americans.

Beware the Teaparty Down Under: Abbott is a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

No, not the villain from the Matrix. This is Australian Head of the Center Right Liberal Party Tony Abbott

We’ve heard this garbage before, but we’re used to hearing it from right wing crazy people here in America. But when a prominent politician and possible PM hopeful in Australia echoes Freedomworks‘ anti-Science stance on global climate change, it is cause for alarm. Tony Abbott pictured here, has gone on the record saying: ‘‘I don’t think we can say that the science is settled here’’ He went on to question whether ‘‘emissions are quite the problem that some people say they are’’, and argued, ‘‘whether carbon dioxide is quite the environmental villain that some people make it out to be is not yet proven.” This is contrary to the findings of roughly 97% of climate scientists who study the effects of man-made pollutants on our global ecosphere. Unfortunately, Australian politics is not laden with stars in the Labor party (which is akin to our Democratic Party in the U.S.) and no one candidate is poised to take the reins of government like Tony Abbott in the September 14 elections later this year.

There are code words the conservatives in the U.S. often use to indicate they are anti-science and pro-big business, with little regard for the environment and health of their people and wildlife. Mr. Abbott takes a page out of the GOP playbook and uses the catchphrase, “the climate change-science is far from settled” here:

Not only is this man, who likely will win in a divided political climate, a danger to those who will be impacted by the rising tides and weather catastrophes in store for all of us if we don’t lower emissions, but Mr. Abbott is a highly religious “family” man, reminiscent of the U.S. pro-life crowd. A poll of 100 voters across Sydney found that Labor and Green voters despise the way Abbott injects religion into his political campaign and policy. On the other hand, Liberal voters respect Abbott as a ‘conviction politician’ who is firm on his beliefs. Liberals, mind you, are like the GOP in America, except a bit more logical. You’d actually be hard pressed to find a party like the Teaparty-laden GOP in a Western Democracy. Abbott has been called “Mad Monk” and “Captain Catholic” by some who believe, as many of us do here in the USA, that religion has no place in politics.

In order to appear as equally sexist, misogynistic and bigoted as his American Teaparty counterparts, Tony Abbott has a rich history of chauvinistic bullying in his C.V. His attempt at mirroring candidates like “legitimate rape” failed Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin are evident in this quote: “When it comes from Julia (Gillard, the unmarried, current PM) , ‘No’ doesn’t mean ‘No’,” his choice of that charged term was completely intentional, and part of a nasty, subterranean agenda. He often refers to the current PM, Ms. Gillard, as unqualified on matters of family as she has no children. He appeals to the farthest right wing elements of his country and to think a man of Abbott’s transparent motives has a such great odds at winning in September is quite disturbing to many Australians.

The last thing a world in turmoil from unchecked corporate hegemony needs is another puppet leader like George W. Bush in a hemisphere that has been wrought with climate change disasters as of late. In a world where the most educated and civilized are moving away from religious dogma dictating social policy, it is anachronistic to have a man like Abbott as head of any state. Generally, Australians are only given one month’s notice of an upcoming election. Hopefully PM Gillard, with this unusual time frame, has given the Labor Party enough notice to try to best a dreadful candidate who will only depress a fairly strong world economy who has averted a recession. The Progressives of America are with you Australia. I hope we can help keep another Mitt Romney from a “Down Under” victory.