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How The GOP Gamed The Voting System To Dominate And Why Elections Are An Anti-Democratic Mess

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How The GOP Gamed The Voting System To Dominate And Why Elections Are An Anti-Democratic Mess

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Two months to elections and counting. Americans will be voting for the entire House, a third of the Senate and the president, as well as all members of state legislative lower houses and usually half of their state senators.

It may be an historic election, an election in which many states will be operating under rules adopted only in the last half dozen years. These rules affect the value of one’s vote and the ease of voting. All of this is occurring in a setting where fewer and fewer federal races are even competitive. Together these impose considerable challenges for those trying to dislodge incumbents, the success of which may depend significantly on the level of voter turnout.

Voter dilution, voter suppression, turnout, the dwindling number of winnable seats: These four key factors will influence the outcome of the 2016 election and determine the future composition of the federal government.

1. Voter Dilution

Every 10 years, per the U.S. Constitution, the number of representatives allocated to each state is determined based on the U.S. Census. The Constitution largely, although not entirely, leaves the manner in which those representatives are elected to the states—and that has left room for manipulation of voting districts to benefit one party or another, also known as gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering is not new. Indeed, the word is more than 200 years old, a combination of the name of a former governor of Massachusetts, Eldridge Gerry, whose party redistricted the state in 1812, and the animal the resulting map of Essex County looked like—a salamander.

The advent of computers in the 1980s made it easier to fine-tune redistricting efforts for partisan purposes, and in the 1990s and 2000s, a wealth of new, easily accessible personal data enabled the creation of detailed voter profiles on a street-by-street, block-by-block basis. As one judge has commented, “Today, modern computer mapping allows for gerrymandering on steroids, as political mapmakers can easily identify individual registrations on a house-by-house basis, mapping their way to victory.”

The next evolution in the redistricting process occurred in 2010 after a handsomely financed and well-coordinated Republican effort to capture state legislative seats proved wildly successful. Going into the election, Democrats held a 60-36 advantage in state legislative chambers. After the election, the legislative advantage dramatically shifted to the Republicans 57-39.

The winners immediately set themselves the task of ensuring permanent control. David Daley, former editor in chief of Salon, explains how in his new book, Ratf**cked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy. The effort, fittingly called REDMAP (Redistricting Majority Project), involved the Republican Governors Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and ALEC, with funding by Walmart, tobacco companies and individual millionaires and billionaires. Their tool was an unprecedentedly finely detailed computer model.

The shape of gerrymandered districts were at times bizarre. Consider this map of the 7th Congressional District in Pennsylvania.

../Downloads/Pennsylvania-7th.png

The dramatic voter dilution resulting from redistricting has led one federal judge to lament, “the fundamental principle of the voters choosing their representative has nearly vanished. Instead, representatives choose their voters.”

The effects of the post-2010 redistricting have been dramatic. Until 2010, Ohio congressional districts were roughly evenly divided between the two parties. In 2012, while Ohioans cast 52 percent of their votes for Republican congressmen, their House delegation was 75 percent Republican.

In Pennsylvania, Democratic candidates for the House received half the votes, but Republicans won three-quarters of the congressional seats. More than half the voters in North Carolina voted for Democrats, yet Republicans filled about 70 percent of the seats. Democrats drew more votes in Michigan than Republicans, but took only five out of the state’s 14 congressional seats.

Right after the 2012 election, Mother Jones published a visually instructive chart comparing the percentage of House seats won by each party to the percentage of the popular vote that party won. A fair election would be one where the light red line was roughly the same length as the dark red line.

Republican Gerrymandering and the 2012 Election

012 election battlegrounds

Another way to look at this is that in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia, one Republican vote had the same voting impact as 2.5 Democratic votes. In North Carolina, the ratio was 3:1.

Republicans were masters of the art of gerrymandering, but when Democrats had the opportunity, they didn’t hesitate to use similar techniques, although they were unable to achieve the ultimate magic trick of converting a minority of the popular vote into a majority of House seats. In Maryland, Democrats won 62 percent of the combined votes for Congress and 88 percent of the seats. In Illinois, they won 54 percent of the popular vote and 66 percent of the seats.

Democrat Gerrymandering and the 2012 Election

../Downloads/Democrats-gerrymandering-in-2012.png

Federal courts have been reticent to intervene in state redistricting disputes. Even when they do, the impact is delayed and often modest. North Carolina’s gerrymandered maps were drawn in 2011, but it wasn’t until February 2016 that a federal court overturned them. In the interval, the state had two congressional elections. As ThinkProgress observes, “the message to lawmakers is clear: go ahead and draw the most self-serving maps you can manage, because even if they are struck down it will take the courts years to do so.”

Within a few days of the court’s decision, the North Carolina legislature convened a special session and promptly redrew the map in a way only marginally better than the previous one. Again a lawsuit was filed. In June 2016, the same federal court that had found North Carolina’s redistricting racially biased in February refused to intercede. The judges did note the declaration of one of the key legislators: “[W]e want to make clear that we are going to use political data in drawing this map. It is to gain partisan advantage on the map. I want that criteria to be clearly stated and understood. I’m making clear that our intent is to use the political data we have to our partisan advantage.” And the judges did not hide their distress: “The Court is very troubled by these representations.” Troubled but powerless, they insisted. “Nevertheless, it is unclear whether a partisan-gerrymander claim is judiciable given existing precedent.” Based on precedent, “the Court’s hands appear to be tied.”

Given the aftermath of the 2010 election, state legislative elections in 2018 and 2020 promise to be bitterly contested. Spending in 2018 may reach levels reached only in presidential election years.

For those wanting to bring fairness to the redistricting process, a non-judicial remedy may be available. Take control out of the hands of self-serving legislators and parties and invest it in nonpartisan citizen commissions. In the 14 states that have direct initiatives, this can be accomplished by a majority statewide vote, as has already occurred in California and Arizona. In 2015, by a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld Arizonans’ right to do this. An independent assessment of the impact of California’s independent commission found that the process elicited broad bipartisan support and resulted in many more competitive legislative races. Five other states have semi-independent commissions: Washington, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii and New Jersey.

Whatever happens, at least the next two elections should be guided by the political maxim: Vote for your local state legislator as if the Congress of the United States depended on it. Because it will.

2. Voter Suppression

In 2008, the Supreme Court upheld an Indiana law requiring all voters casting a ballot in person to present a U.S. or Indiana photo ID. The facts were not in dispute. Those least likely to have state-issued identification were disproportionately poor and nonwhite. The only voter fraud addressed by photo IDs is voter impersonation fraud, which was practically nonexistent.

None of this mattered to the justices. John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority, insisted the burden of proof rested not on the state to justify new voting restrictions but on the citizenry to prove they created a burden. Moreover, the burden had to be extensive and widely shared. He elaborated, “Even assuming that the burden may not be justified as to a few voters, that conclusion is by no means sufficient to establish petitioners’ right to the relief they seek.”

The decision reversed a century-old dynamic in America during which the franchise had been regularly broadened and the ability to vote regularly facilitated.

Since 2010, 23 states have either introduced more restrictive voter procedures or tightened those in operation.

In 2013, the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 decision, further enabled disenfranchisement by striking down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the provision that required pre-approval by the federal government of changes in election laws. This freed the nine covered states and dozens of counties in New York, California and South Dakota to change election laws without advance federal approval. They can still be sued, but only after the fact.

Five new voter suppression laws enacted by states were in place for the 2012 presidential election. Fifteen more laws will be tested for the first time in the 2016 elections. Seven of these enacted their laws after the Supreme Court eliminated the need for pre-clearance.

../Downloads/Voter-ID-Laws-Map.png

Since 2013, suits regarding these laws have been wending their way through the courts. Early this summer, courts halted the implementation of voter suppression laws in North Dakota and North Carolina.

North Carolina’s voting restrictions, introduced the day after the 2013 Supreme Court decision, added a strict photo-ID requirement, cut a week off of early voting, and ended same-day registration, preregistration and out-of-precinct voting. A Circuit Court upended the stricter voting requirements, concluding the law’s provisions “target African Americans with almost surgical precision,” and explained, “We can only conclude that the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the challenged provisions of the law with discriminatory intent.” On August 31, the Supreme Court, without Justice Scalia, affirmed the Circuit Court decision by a 4-4 tie vote.

The status of all these lawsuits, as of mid-August, can be found at ProPublica.

3. Voter Turnout

Voter dilution makes it extremely difficult, although not impossible, to capture congressional and state legislative seats. Voter suppression aids and abets the impact of voter dilution but also affects the capacity to win statewide elections for statewide offices, senators and the president. Both obstacles can be overcome, at considerable expense and effort, by increasing the number of people who vote.

When it comes to voter turnout, history is clear. When turnout is high, Democrats win. When turnout is low, Republicans win.

Voter turnout for presidential elections, according to the Census Bureau, has remained fairly stable over the last generation, while voting for congressional races has declined.

../Downloads/Voting-rates-congressional-and-presidential-chart.png

In 2014, low voter turnout among groups that tend to vote Democrat may have been decisive in expanding Republican control of Congress. Overall voter turnout was 36.3 percent, the lowest percentage since 1942, when millions of men were off to war. Voter turnout among 18-to-29-year-olds dropped to 19.9 percent, the lowest total ever recorded in federal elections, and voter registration among the youth fell to 46.7 percent, the lowest in 40 years.

Voting Turnout for Presidential Elections: 1964-2012

../Downloads/Voting-Turnout-by-Age-Presidential-Elections-1024x649.png

There has been a steady decline in voter turnout for all groups, except those age 65 and over. In presidential elections, turnout of those over 65 has actually gone up since the 1960s and has stabilized at high levels since the early 1990s. It is unlikely that turnout can be increased among this group, but there has been a considerable variability in which party they vote for. They had reliably voted Democrat but switched to the Republican column in 2012, and currently their vote appears up for grabs.

../Downloads/over-65-party-advantage-and-young-1024x543.png

There has also been a dramatic variability in voter turnout for those 18-24 years of age. One might interpret the increase and decrease in turnout in the 1990s as youth voting enthusiastically for Bill Clinton and then becoming so disillusioned that turnout plunged in the succeeding two elections. A massive get-out-the-vote campaign focused on youth in 2004 may be the reason behind the rebound. In 2008, a substantial youth turnout was an important reason for Barack Obama’s election. In 2016, the level of turnout among young voters could determine the presidency.

Another way of breaking down voting patterns is to compare a cohort’s share of the eligible voting age population with its share of those actually voting. What we discover, perhaps not surprisingly, is that young voters lag, while those 45-64 punch high above their weight class, even more so than those 65 and older. Voting rates for those age 30-44 are only slightly below their percentage of the eligible voting population.

../Downloads/Eligible-population-vs.-voting-population-1024x743.png

When we examine the impact of race and ethnicity on voting, we find that black turnout has risen steadily over the past 20 years, hitting a peak with Obama’s two presidential runs. Hispanic and Asian turnout, on the other hand, has not risen much and lags far behind that of blacks and non-Hispanic whites.

If we compare the share of the eligible voting population with the share of actual voters, non-Hispanic whites are disproportionately represented while Hispanics are disproportionately underrepresented.

../Downloads/Differences-Between-Shares-in-Race-etc.-presidential-1024x424.png

4. How Many Races Truly Are in Play?

The presidency may well be won on turnout, and it is conceivable that a high turnout will allow the Democratic Party to take over the Senate, and more remotely, the House. But high turnout is a decreasing factor in many races.

In 1992, according to Nate Silver, 103 House races were competitive; in 2012 this had plunged to only 35. Meanwhile, the number of landslide districts in which the presidential vote margin deviated by at least 20 percentage points from the national result has roughly doubled, from 123 in 1992 to 242 in 2012.

In the 2016 race, 270towin.com estimates, only 50 House seats out of 483 are competitive: 38 are held by Republicans and 12 by Democrats. The map starkly reveals the paltry number of competitive seats. Given that Democrats will need to add 31 seats to gain a majority, their chances are extremely slim.

Where House Seats Are Winnable

../Downloads/competitive-house-districts-on-map-1024x651.png

For the Senate, 11 seats (tan states) are considered competitive. Democrats need four additional seats for a 50-50 tie that can be broken by the vice president or five for an outright majority.

Where Senate Seats Are Winnable

../Downloads/competitive-senate-districts-on-map-1024x789.png

So what does all this tell us? The system indeed is rigged, but that doesn’t make elections impossible to win. The key, at least for Democrats, is to increase turnout. One part of that strategy is to overturn state laws that suppress turnout. For Democrats, winning the presidency and winning back the Senate will require a massive get-out-the-vote effort on behalf of their candidates, especially targeting the young and Hispanics. A massive effort would almost surely be insufficient to take back control of the House, but it could make the margin much, much closer. For Republicans, a low turnout guarantees the status quo in Congress and may well gain them the presidency.

David Morris is co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and directs its initiative on The Public Good. He is the author of “New City States” and four other non-fiction books. Follow him on Twitter: @PublicMorris.

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51 Comments

  1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth September 10, 2016

    Not surprising that the GOP has played a key role in corrupting and tarnishing the democratic process. Not content with just inter-party bickering, they’ve insisted on disenfranchising other Americans, stealing elections through gerrymandering, making up bogus ID restrictions for the purpose of discouraging other members from voting. creating confusion during an election year that allowed a disastrous presidential outcome, aided by a biased Supreme Court decision, to plague the nation.
    What a mess—thanks GOP.

    Reply
    1. Mama Bear September 10, 2016

      In part, I truly believe, because these “entitled” white men actually believe that their vote SHOULD count for more than just one.

      Reply
    2. Jon September 10, 2016

      I share your frustration with the plutocratic leanings of the Republican party. A democracy is an anathema to it. It seems that every time you win one battle with them over a voter dilution or suppression effort by them, they resort to a different plan to achieve the same result. Their efforts in some places to prevent or dilute Democratic votes seems to never end.

      Reply
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    Reply
  3. Dominick Vila September 10, 2016

    There is another critical part of this equation: the GOP focus on winning State Governorships and control State legislatures. They are well aware that the key to implement gerrymandering, voter suppression, and other Third World election tactics is to control State and local governments, and towards that end they devote much of their time and financial resources to control State governments. That’s what handed W his electoral college victory in 2000.
    Another important component is the ideological leanings of the Supreme Court. That’s why both parties are fighting tooth and nail to control and White House and the Senate, especially with one SCOTUS seat already vacant, and as many as three more likely to be open within the next four years.

    Reply
    1. dpaano September 12, 2016

      I read a very good book a year or so ago (can’t remember the name), but it clearly stated that the GOP is working towards an “imperial presidency.” In other words, they want to control the country, the states, the cities, etc. and fill them all with Republicans who will do their bidding. Unfortunately, most people fail to understand what would happen if this occurred and how we would be dealt with, undermined, etc. If we wanted a “king” to run this country, we could always move somewhere where they have one! Democracy as we used to know it seemingly no longer exists and the idiots who don’t understand that are really uninformed! They will be the ones that will be screaming the loudest if this ever happens!!! Trust me on this one! The rest of us will move to Canada!!!

      Reply
  4. AgLander September 10, 2016

    The Democrat party has fine tuned voter fraud into a science. Without phony votes, they do not survive as a elective force.
    https://electionfraud2016.wordpress.com/

    Reply
    1. charleo1 September 10, 2016

      The term useful idiot, in combination with a just staggering amount of willful ignorance, are all the elements necessary to strip this Nation of it’s democracy.
      A democracy, you, nor none on the ever more radical, ever more authoritarian Right, seem to be very fond of, or have much respect left for. As otherwise you would know it is the Democratic Party that represents the very majority you would ignorantly, and with great disdain, discount via very provable lie as illegitimate. Begging the question, why do so many of the RW extremists today hate American democracy so? Is it because they are not permitted to rule as a minority in order to remake America in their image as they see fit? The facts as to your motivations are becoming more and more apparent with every position we see taken, every vote frustrated, every voter disenfranchised, seem to support that theory more and more as time goes by.

      Reply
    2. 788eddie September 10, 2016

      Please name names of people who have been convicted of voter fraud, so that everyone can google them to see the records printed in reliable main-stream newspapers.

      To my recollection there are two, and they were both Republicans.

      Reply
    3. apzzyk September 10, 2016

      The voter fraud issue is the largest red hearing in the pool. Since forever, the Conservatives have been against any national ID, which is probably why our Social Security cards have no pictures, and no information other than our names. As most of the courts which have reviewed the voter ID laws have concluded, all that they do is to discriminate against certain groups who have problems getting photo ID’s which are acceptable. For example, in Texas, the Photo ID’s that are issued to students at Texas A & M, satisfy the state law, but the ones from Prarie View A & M – a traditional Black College that is supposed to be a part of the same University system do not. There is no logical reason for this difference, which was recognized by the court.
      Prior to the rush to the voter ID laws, in every election cycle over the previous 50 years, there had been no more than 20 prosecutions for voter fraud in the entire country, and there had been none where the single vote had been decisive.
      I am 76, and a veteran who gets, or is supposed to get, both a pension and all of my healthcare from the Department of Veterans Affairs, so I have my picture VA card, which also gets me discounts at some places with no problem. However, when it comes to voting, it is not acceptable because for some reason unknown, it has been ‘compromised’. However, since I am 100% disabled, my Department of Defense photo ID, which also does not carry any other information about me other than date of birth, it is acceptable everywhere. In CO we hold all elections with mail in ballots, and our county clerks are able to do a fine job of purging deceased voters from the rolls. My father died in 8/2000, and I did not get a mail in ballot for him.
      In AL just about a year ago, the Gov decided to close the places where voters who needed a new ID to vote, closed them, but then decided to open them for one day a week. It so happened, according to census data, that these closures were in the most heavily black areas of the state.
      Then there are birth certificates, which can be used in almost all places as voter ID. While photos and expiration dates are required on forms of acceptable ID, the only thing that my original one shows are my foot prints at birth, and on the certified copy which I got using my VA card, for under $20 these are missing. With passports, it is only slightly more expensive to get a forged one than it is to go through the Department of State and wait 3 months or longer.
      The bottom line in that what the Voter ID laws have done is to make massive voter fraud legal by denying those who have voted before the right to vote based upon a ‘current’ photo ID. I have my long expired Driver’s licence, so why should I go sit in some place with a million screaming kids with my PTSD to get a State ID? An old friend was one of the last of the Navajo Code Talkers of WWII, and the only form of ID that he had was his original DD 314 – discharge papers, and the Gold Medal of Freedom that he got from President Bush would not even qualify him to vote. How do you pass a driver’s test when you have no car? People who have no cars are usually poor, so is not not having a current driver’s licence (aka being poor) a reason to deny a qualified voter the right to vote?

      Reply
    4. I Am Helpy September 11, 2016

      Yes we get that you hate democracy.

      Reply
  5. AlfredSonny September 10, 2016

    Gerrymandering or not, Trump is exposing the ignorance of Americans.

    Reply
    1. Mama Bear September 10, 2016

      I agree, this election cycle has truly startled me with how many Americans suffer from self-imposed ignorance. I’m afraid for that type of ignorance there is most likely no cure.

      Reply
      1. Jon September 10, 2016

        I watched Trump’s speech to the Value Voters in D.C. yesterday, 9-9-16, and wondered just what kind of sick values these people hold dear. Forget about a presumption of innocence, these people were screaming “Lock her up” with as much gusto and enthusiasm as Trump supporters do at his rallies and did at the RNC in Cleveland as Trump speaks Hillary Clinton’s name and pauses waiting for the chant to begin. They apparently value rape, conning and scamming others, extra-marital affairs, frequent divorce, racism, narcissism, xenophobia, misogyny, lying under oath, a commander in chief who will start a war if another country does what Iran did and has people in small boats giving sailors aboard a destroyer the finger causing him to order that the small boats of rude people be blasted out of the water(thin skinned and trigger happy), a man who dodges the draft with deferments and “bone spurs”, uses disgusting words to describe women, frequently uses profanity, calls 2nd Corinthians Two Corinthians, lies constantly even if not under oath, mocks the disabled, praises brutal dictators like Vladimir Putin in Russia and Kim Jong Un in North Korea, claims without proof that our president is not legitimate because he was born in Kenya, uses illegal immigrant workers and then doesn’t pay all of them, insults all who disagree with him, brings hate groups, white supremacists and nationalists into mainstream politics, declares bankruptcy 5 times leaving taxpayers to pay for his poor skills as a businessman, bribes government officials, believes that women in the military deserve to be raped for wanting a career in a traditionally male organization, and, in case I forgot, LIES all the time. Are those values?

        Reply
        1. Mama Bear September 10, 2016

          well said, thank you for putting your observations into words.

          Reply
          1. charleo1 September 10, 2016

            Second that MB. That was good, was it not? Thanks Jon.

            Reply
  6. itsfun September 10, 2016

    Redistricting has been happening for years and years. Whatever party is in power has always done that. Its part of the political system.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering_in_the_United_States

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redistricting

    Reply
    1. charleo1 September 10, 2016

      Drinking whiskey has been around for years. When it is decided to be consumed by the barrel, is when it’s deadly effects become apparent. There is no doubt the specter of the ignorant, unprepared narcissist billionaire being nominated for the most powerful office in the most powerful Nation of Earth, is the result of closed Party primaries, and the Republicans extreme and irresponsible gerrymandering when they were handed the pencil to do so. It was a mistake I’m sure they sorely regret. But one where the entire Nation must now suffer the consequences.

      Reply
      1. itsfun September 10, 2016

        Both parties do this, not just the Republican Party.

        Reply
        1. charleo1 September 10, 2016

          True enough. But I think the larger question must be, should the process whereby the politician gets to pick the voter, that serves to stand representative democracy on its proverbial head, be done at all by any Party? And certainly to the unprecedented extent this voter diluting, disempowering technique has been employed by the Republican Right since 2010? Has this in fact served to create a lot of the voter dissatisfaction, and loss of faith in the minds of many voters as to whether to not their government, and its institutions are working in their interests? In the interests of that same majority that has been silenced in no small part by gerrymandering. Do we need further guidance from the courts as to the extent this muscled up by technology maneuver, is tearing away at the fabric of the Republic?

          Reply
          1. itsfun September 10, 2016

            Charlie: It has been happening for years, I don’t like it either. However, why do you only use Republicans as a example, when Democrats have done the same things? Guidance from the courts has also become political. That is the worst thing that could have happened to our nation. Just look at the Supreme Court for one example. Conservative Presidents get to pick conservative judges and liberal Presidents get to pick liberal judges. That alone can and does set the way of lives for millions of people. The people don’t get a opportunity to elect or fire those people. Personally I would like to see terms of 6 to 8 years for Supreme Court Judges because of how political the court is.

            Reply
          2. charleo1 September 10, 2016

            Because the extent to which Republicans have skewed the electoral process of how we determine who represents us, how that small “d” democratic process is achieved, has been unprecedented. So now the Supreme Court becomes just another causality in the never ending hyper partisan effort to bias, or interrupt the proper course of granting the necessary consent of the governed. As we’ve seen, If, and at anytime that happens, when the Court in any way sees fit in fulfilling its appointed Constitutional role, might step in the way of a political agenda. It is immediately accused by the Right of being political, writing the law, governing from the bench. And the tearing down of yet another branch of our Constitutional construct is weakened. And to your point, yes, absolutely, Presidents have always gotten to fill vacated Supreme Court positions as part of their officially recognized duty, until the last vacancy. So when should the Constitution be applied, and when is it deemed proper to ignore it, or simply refuse to abide by it, for partisan purpose? When in the years you rightly mention, has this been accepted regular behavior?

            Reply
          3. Sand_Cat September 10, 2016

            The GOP is the CURRENT primary offender.
            Pretty much everyone commenting here has said that NO PARTY should be allowed to skew the results.

            Perhaps you should simply accept “yes.”

            As for electing judges, that would certainly be political as well. Not sure those jurisdictions that do it have even as good a court system as those that don’t. Have you any facts?

            Since we haven’t had any liberal presidents since Lyndon Johnson, “liberal” presidents’ appointing “liberal” judges hasn’t been a problem, plus several of the more truly liberal justices were appointed by Eisenhower. I know that by modern terms, he would be accused of representing the “far left” and being a “libtard,” but let’s try to deal with reality, for once.

            Reply
          4. dpaano September 12, 2016

            Ooow, you used big words….I doubt it itsfun will understand anything that you said!!!

            Reply
        2. 788eddie September 10, 2016

          Yes, we get that itsfun; and now it’s time to put it to an end, for our country’s sake.

          Agreed?

          Reply
          1. itsfun September 10, 2016

            Yes and I also would like to see term limits on Supreme Court Judges because of how politically motivated the Supreme Court has become.

            Reply
          2. 788eddie September 10, 2016

            Nope. I wouldn’t support that, itsfun – you’re always looking for an edge, aren’t ya. Now that it looks as if we’re going to swing the court back at least toward the middle, if not a little to the left of center for a change, you’re looking for some way to limit its power.

            No thanks.

            Reply
          3. itsfun September 11, 2016

            Not looking for a edge for anything. How could asking for a vote of the people be asking for a edge? I don’t like the Supreme Court becoming just another arm of any political party. How many times in the past have we all know what the results of a case would be because of the liberal or conservative makeup of the court? With Trump now leading in the polls, there is no guarantee the court will be leaning left. I am not trying to make a left or right statement, just saying I would like to see the court really be impartial. As far as the power of the Supreme Court, it really has no legal or police power. It makes a ruling, but to follow the ruling, the Congress or courts with police power are the ones to enforce their rulings.

            Reply
          4. 788eddie September 11, 2016

            Term limits for justices would not help to insure impartiality of Supreme Court decisions. I have no problem with the way things are; lifetime appointments. This DOES help to insure that appointments are NOT usually made on a regular basis; only when someone dies, or steps down.

            Reply
          5. itsfun September 11, 2016

            That’s true, but how many 90 year old judges do we need telling what to do?

            Reply
          6. 788eddie September 11, 2016

            As we all know age is not necessarily a determinant of ability.

            As for the 90 year-olds, they’re more than likely the ones to be replaced with much younger ones.

            Reply
        3. I Am Helpy September 11, 2016

          “Both sides do it, according to me, so it’s OK to keep doing it” – the perennial cry of the Republican.

          Reply
          1. itsfun September 11, 2016

            Both sides are guilty of doing this. Its not right, but how does it get reformed?

            Reply
          2. I Am Helpy September 11, 2016

            Yes, I get that you believe in false equivalence. That’s what I said.

            Reply
    2. Sand_Cat September 10, 2016

      True enough. I believe that’s why we’d like to reform it to prevent EITHER or ANY party from gaining an artificial advantage.

      Reply
  7. charleo1 September 10, 2016

    There is magnanimous humility in the concepts of democracy that defies the flawed proclivities of human nature. That counters the natural arrogance of man and the intoxicating, and corrupting influences of unlimited power. So why has the Republican Party decided, as it has to exploit this known flaw in our system that allows the very kind of undemocratic consolidation of undue power the Founders strived so mightily in so many ingenious ways to prevent? I think the short answer is because they have been more willing to adopt the political expediencies necessary to outsource their duties as servants of the People. And fix their allegiance with those so intoxicated, and corrupted by power they have no qualms, and may actually believe their unbounded self entitlement is wholly justified by their own self perceived superior intellect over that of the common man. Concluding then, the best interests of the People, and the Country align with them having even more power than their huge fortunes in the private realm, or the properly protected principles governing the public realms of government, sufficiently serve.

    So if power is the ideal, money is the instrument. It promoting aristocratic rule of the few over the many is the goal, these new rulers need subjects. Therefore such subjects must be found who admire the wealthy, and may strive to emulate them. Who look to the monied elite for their guidance. And who willingly give up their own liberties as tribute to them. A manipulation so, that distinct minority may be found, and must be empowered beyond the democratic norms. And this is exactly what gerrymandering voting districts across the States, and against the concepts of small ‘d’ democracy provides. An elite ruling class empowered by a carefully chosen small minority that worships, and lionizes the rich. If there is any charge of my contentions being purely partisan in nature, without proof, or without foundation, I would submit, who would question the ill heath of our democracy? The overall dissatisfaction of unprecedented numbers of people in the choices of leadership left to us for consideration by the current system? Or the disfunction, and unwillingness of our government, and legal systems at all levels to address those problems, and challenges that face the common person?

    Reply
    1. Mama Bear September 10, 2016

      maybe the answer is as simple as this – just plain evil predators.

      Reply
      1. charleo1 September 10, 2016

        They are the instigators of almost everything our Constitutionally based form of separated power, representative governance, was designed to prevent. That is more simply put, the impedance of minority rule.

        Reply
  8. Joan September 10, 2016

    Our citizen’s respect for our political institutions is eroding. There is a feeling, which is accuate, that their votes do not count and that they are powerless against a government that is not responsive. Trump has feed into these feelings, yet he is a big part of the problem and has no plans or intentions of being part of the solution. After all, the leader of Citizen’s United, is part of his campaign.

    Reply
  9. 788eddie September 10, 2016

    This article demonstrates why htis election is so important for our country.

    My hope is that Hillary Clinton is not only elected, but that she gets to appoint two or maybe three Supreme Court justices.

    We then need to have a case regarding unfair redistricting make its way to the Supreme Court, and hopefully be determines in favor of fairness. This is not a Democrat or Republican issue; both have exercised redistricting in an unfair manner. It’s time to stop it for the America’s benefit.

    Reply
    1. Mama Bear September 10, 2016

      I honestly think this is what Ruth Bader Ginsburg is waiting for, so she can retire knowing Hillary has her back.

      Reply
  10. Oddworld September 10, 2016

    I don’t see the problem here….if you’re rich!!!

    Reply
  11. apzzyk September 10, 2016

    The effects of Gerrymandering in Federal Elections might be curable in time for the next redistricting by just taking away from the states the privilege of deciding who can and who cannot vote in Federal Elections for Federal Offices. There is nothing in the Constitution that grants the states the right to qualify or disqualify voter for Federal Offices, and this could be done by Congress. A vote on this would show all of us who is actually for a democracy and who is not. In other nations, they use an indelible thumb print to distringush between those who have voted and those who have not, and their elections seem to actually represent the people.

    Reply
    1. Sand_Cat September 10, 2016

      I believe the Constitution does give voter eligibility and control to the states, but I don’t have a copy handy. More evidence of the apparent delusion of the founders that the states were more responsive and more democratic than a Federal government was likely to be.
      Anyone else know what the Constitution says about voters?

      Reply
      1. apzzyk September 11, 2016

        If I remember correctly, New York lowered the voting age to 18, and this was followed by a Federal Law which then applied this to all states, on the basis that if people were eligible for the draft that they should be able to vote. But then, it seems to be totally inconsistent, that Congress then linked the receiving of Federal Highway funds to the States on whether or not they increased the legal alcohol consumption age to 21, where many states, including New York, were coerced into raising their age on this. This leaves us with a strange system where 18 year olds can be exposed to hostile fire, but cannot have a beer. In at least CO, a buyer of non-alcoholic beer – Sprite with a different taste – one has to be 21, and also has to be that age to buy tobacco products, so we have part time adults who are also part time kids.

        Reply
  12. Aaron_of_Portsmouth September 10, 2016

    In light of the current hijacking and tarnishing of the electoral process, whether by the GOP currently or by either parties in the past, it seems that the best way forward is for each of us to have honest, sincere, and polite conversations with friends and neighbors to allow them to understand the affliction running rampant through a flawed electoral process. During those talks, we should refrain from asserting our opinions and instead put forth views in a frank yet polite manner.

    Hopefully, a method of electing anyone to an administrative position will evolve from the current system and follow the Baha’i Electoral Process—a system that stands in stark contrast to the current method of elections.

    Paradoxically, Trump and the GOP may have in the long run served as catalysts for keeping the best of the current system, and impel us to jettison the negative qualities, including the big-money influences to buy elections, eliminate totally all the media hype, prevent useless and childish Tweets from the likes of Donald, and make the process a real democratic system.

    For now, the process has more in common with despotic regimes and many 3rd world nations than with anything remotely akin to a democracy.

    Reply
  13. dtgraham September 10, 2016

    From the article:

    “Take control out of the hands of self-serving legislators and parties and invest it in nonpartisan citizen commissions.”

    That’s the answer, and really the only answer. Two states already have a fully independent election commission and five others have semi-independent commissions. That’s a start. It’s like the old saying, when you let the party in power in a given region run the election in that region…what could go wrong?

    Other countries have had great success with non-partisan independent bodies running their elections. The poster synnergy corresponded with me once on the “viciously non-partisan” nature of New Zealand’s Electoral Commission. Likewise the same can be said for Elections Canada, which runs everything. Politicians aren’t allowed to interfere with them at all.

    I am mildly surprised that there aren’t protests in the streets by now concerning the complete rigging of the federal Congress in 2010. I would have thought that the word would be out by now that Congress is in permanent Republican control for at least a decade and perhaps longer, regardless of how people vote. I guess that the vast majority of voters simply aren’t aware of it, and the reason for that is apathy. People just don’t care much about politics, don’t really follow it, and aren’t interested. Certainly not for details like that. It’s almost as though it’s over their head. Heck, most people don’t even bother voting except in some Presidential elections.

    It’s amazing that the Republicans have been able to get away with this in the sphere of public opinion. This is almost strictly a Republican thing, notwithstanding the Democrats playing around with gerrymandering-lite in two states only. I don’t think it’s ever happened that a party has managed (or even tried) to pull off a coup d’etat of one of the branches of federal governance for at least a decade.

    Reply
  14. Insinnergy September 11, 2016

    I wonder how the GOP rationalises their obvious gerrymandering and deliberate voter suppression with America having the “best Democracy in the World”?

    Anyone care to share?
    (And don’t bother with the “Voter Fraud” zombie lie… enough Republicans have openly admitted the aim is minority suppression and no-one has found actual voter fraud in numbers large enough to count on one hand)

    I’m also curious as to how far they think being the Party of Racists, Bigots, and Angry White people while desparately gerrymandering and suppressing voters is going to get them when the demographics of younger voters and % of minorities are relentlessly growing?

    What’s your endgame here GOP?
    Change the law so only white people and/or wealthy people are allowed to vote?
    (Note: For those who think that is ridiculous, they are already effectively trying to do the “only wealthy people” part.)

    Reply
    1. David J Gill November 1, 2016

      Their agenda is permanent domination of American government by changing election rules to allow the rule by a minority party. It’s cynical contempt for democracy. They will maintain the vestigial form of fair elections and representative democracy while undermining both and forcing their minority vision on the majority of Americans.

      The fact that so many Americans blame both parties equally – find them equally bad is evidence of the gulability of the American electorate.

      Reply
  15. David J Gill November 1, 2016

    This story is the huge truth that the media fails to report and expose.

    Reply
    1. dtgraham November 2, 2016

      Hugely right. Absolutely.

      Reply

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