SILVER SPRING, Maryland – I live in Maryland, and I follow Maryland politics closely. This is how I know my congressional district is part of an absurd gerrymander that stretches from the Washington, DC border to the Pennsylvania border, thanks to a 12 mile strand of mostly park that at several places only measure 2000 feet in diameter. And it’s far from the most absurd neighborhood in my state. Here is the craziest.
I also know that an official non-partisan commission drew a good map reflecting the new census data, and Democrats in the state legislature threw away this good card in favor of a slightly modified map that gives them a lucky to have all eight congressional seats in Maryland. That state has elected a Republican governor twice in a row, where one-third of the voters are trusted Republicans, and there are two distinctly conservative regions, each with enough population to make up the bulk of a congressional district.
I wrote about this card, and on Twitter I received a lot of pledges from Liberals who share my loathing for gerrymandering.
Someone has to fight against the manipulative Republicans of gerrymandering. Even the Supreme Court has called Republican Texas gerrymandering illegal. You all disarm, so we will.
-Charlittle (@Charstarrr) December 2, 2021
The underlying current in these Democratic endorsements of naked Democratic gerrymandering is that naked Democratic gerrymanders are revenge for naked Republican gerrymanders. And boy, are there any naked Republican gerrymanders, with Texas and Ohio leading this year.
But it’s a weird sort of millennial-too-too-online-closed-in-a-media-bubble-myth that Democratic gerrymanders are replicas to the Republican gerrymanders. Somehow, MSNBC and the Liberals on Twitter convinced a bunch of other Liberals that the Republicans invented gerrymandering in 2010. This is, as you can guess, wrong.
Start with the states Democrats cite the most, starting with Texas.
See, I’m old enough to remember when Texas had a map drawn by the Democrats. For a little glimpse of the map the Democrats drew the last time they controlled Texas, look at the lines in Dallas-Ft. Value area.
This card allowed Democrats to expand their majority of the congressional delegation, winning 21 of 30 seats (70%) while congressional candidates securing less than 50% of the popular vote. Even at the end of the decade, Texas Democrats held 57% of the seats in Congress while winning 44% of the vote.
After the 1990 election, North Carolina was controlled by the Democrats, who attracted one of the country’s most famous gerrymanders. Here is the 12th arrondissement.
“The 12th Congressional District of North Carolina,” wrote David Broder, “is a ribbon 160 miles long, often no wider than the right-of-way of Interstate 85, which it follows from Durham south. west to Charlotte.
I want to be very clear: I think the Democrats ‘brazen partisan and undemocratic abuse of power does not justify the Republicans’ response. I wish the Republicans in Texas and North Carolina didn’t fall to the level of the Democrats in Texas and North Carolina. I just wanted to give a history lesson here. The first gerrymanderer, Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry, was deservedly a Democrat-Republican.
Republicans are able to gerrymander more effectively these days on the net, as they control state legislatures in the more purple states. It’s also because Democrats tend to shut themselves up in very Democratic places, while Republicans are more likely to live in politically diverse places.