Since I became involved with Fair Districts PA, I realized not everyone understands the term "gerrymandering." Recently, I turned to my 3-year-old grandson and asked, "Do you know what gerrymandering is?"
And, since he has the "cool, clear eyes of a seeker of wisdom and truth" he replied, "No, I like dinosaurs."
Well, dinosaurs are extinct and gerrymandering should be too, but here we are in the 21st century trying to find new ways to get rid of old ways. And, hey, if a 3-year-old can identify a Tyrannosaurus and a Diplodocus, then surely we can grapple with the nuances of gerrymandering.
Initially, I Googled "Gerrymandering for Dummies" and was pleased not to find the exact title because when you are trying to gain knowledge, a more appropriate title should be "Gerrymandering for Smarties."
Here's a Q & A to make us smarter:
Q: In simple terms, what is gerrymandering?
A: Redrawing the lines of a congressional district to give a voting advantage to one party. (This allows politicians to select their voters rather than allowing voters to choose their politicians.)
Q: What are four examples of gerrymandering?
A: Cracking, packing, hijacking and kidnapping (This is not a Netflix series.)
• Cracking: Dividing a community to reduce its influence
• Packing: Lumping a community together to concentrate and isolate its influence
• Hijacking: Drawing a new district that pits two incumbents against each other
• Kidnapping: Drawing new district lines that exclude where the incumbent lives
Q: What is REDMAP? (Not a Tom Clancy novel.)
A: After the 2010 census, a Redistricting Majority Project (REDMAP) used sophisticated database software and $30 million to redraw political boundaries, the most concerted effort in modern history. Congressional seats were altered for a decade.
Q: More, please.
A: Gerrymandering is an instrument of party advantage, it manipulates the size and shape of electoral districts to favor one party.
• Shifts focus to winning and control
• Increases gridlock and conflict instead of problem solving
• Increases voter frustration
I hope this information about gerrymandering makes us smarter.
Dinosaurs and gerrymandering, let's make them both extinct.