“Gerrymandering” Made Easy

My indifference to most things political at a state and national level is born out of a resigned sense of helplessness along with an uncomfortable, greasy feeling when I do accidentally pay attention. I have to wash off afterwards. My attitude is that these politicians are always going to play their power games at our expense. Nature of the beast et al, why rage against the machine?

“Gerrymandering” has been making increased appearances in my social media and news feeds lately. I’ve been successfully ignoring it until a friend told me she is part of an area grassroots group, Voters Not Politicians, looking to do away with gerrymandering.

“What is it?” I asked. She explained it something like this.

In 1812, then Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry signed a bill that redefined the states districts to benefit his political party. The strategy was to redistrict areas in such a way that voters for his party were in the majority and voters for the opposition party were in the minority. When one of the newly contorted districts looked like a salamander, the term “Gerrymander” was coined to describe such a practice.

I listened and immediately did the one thing I try to avoid with political things, I cared. I went to the group’s website, http://www.votersnotpoliticians.com/ and three things jumped right out.

1) Their slogan: “Voters should choose their politicians, not the other way around.”

2) A graphic on how gerrymandering works: In the example below, the Red party has cracked the Blue voters across 6 districts just enough that they only have a majority in 1 district while securing 5 districts for themselves. (The colors are not to be associated with a particular political party)

3) A graphic of the congressional districts in southeast Michigan:

And then something happened that I was determined never would, I cared even more.

I then got to wondering how many more people were like me, uninformed and indifferent, regarding politics. I don’t blame you at all. For that reason I’ve made this quick and simple, just enough to introduce gerrymandering and the group working to change it.

We’ll be following Voters Not Politicians and their developing efforts to end gerrymandering. If you would like to add your personal power to their effort, you can find out how on their website.

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