On October 3, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that could deem “partisan gerrymandering” constitutional. Simply put, “partisan gerrymandering” makes some voters more equal than others, ostensibly based on their party preference. As recently as 2013, this argument was considered a poor attempt to obscure what was really raced based gerrymandering.
The case, Gill v. Whitford, challenges Wisconsin’s electoral map and was brought by the Campaign Legal Center. In honesty, partisan gerrymandering has been part of our political landscape throughout our history. However, in today’s America, race is an undeniable factor determining our partisan preferences. There’s no escaping the reality that the Republican Party is the party of white privilege, while the Democratic Party has become the party for people of color, women, the LGBT community, people who welcome immigrants instead of feeling threatened by them.
The Republican Party has been hostile to minorities since the civil rights era. However, its racial animus was, by comparison, subdued. The Republican Party doesn’t hide its opposition to programs intended to provide equality of opportunity to people who endured structural racism from America’s inception. It isn’t above masking it’s desire to rig elections in a manner that gives a privileged white man’s vote more weight than that of a woman, a person of color, or a member of any other minority.
With Donald Trump as its face and its leader, the Republican Party has openly become the party that defends white supremacists, fascists and neo-Nazis. As it moved further and further to the right, the Republican Party became less appealing to minorities who recognize the Republican Party’s policies are harmful to their interests. Moreover, it has become politically correct for Republicans to reduce concerns about equality and policies that adversely affect minorities as “identity politics” – a term used to disparage and dismiss the interests of anyone who doesn’t fall in the category of privileged white men.
Conversely, the majority of people in the increasingly marginalized demographics are Democrats.
In short, we live in an age where “partisan gerrymandering” and racial gerrymandering really are the same thing.
In 2013, Republicans like Greg Abbott, as then Texas Attorney-General denied that his state gerrymandered its electoral maps based on race. He told the court, Texas gerrymandering was exclusively about providing Republicans with an electoral advantage.
While the Trump wing of the Republican Party is dominant and the Republican Party officialdom supports “partisan gerrymandering” that opinion is not universal.
Several prominent Republicans filed briefs to argue “partisan gerrymandering” is unconstitutional. They include: Senator John McCain of Arizona; Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio; Bob Dole, the former Republican Senate leader from Kansas and the party’s 1996 presidential nominee; the former senators John C. Danforth of Missouri, Richard G. Lugar of Indiana and Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming; and Arnold Schwarzenegger, a former governor of California.
Republican opponents of gerrymandering express a variety of concerns should “partisan gerrymandering” be ruled constitutional.
Trevor Potter, president of the Campaign Legal Center and a former Chairman to the Federal Election Commission argues that partisan gerrymandering attacks the heart of political legitimacy.
When speaking of the prominent Republicans who oppose partisan gerrymandering, Potter said: “They know that elected officials’ legitimacy comes from being freely chosen by voters, not through seizing power from voters to keep themselves in control,”
The courts saw through Gregg Abbott’s arguments in 2013 but that was at time of relative normalcy. Today, we have a president who defends Russia and white supremacists, above everyone else and above the values that crossed party lines until Trump ran his divide and conquer campaign.
There’s a struggle between those of us who defend a great, albeit imperfect, America where people, facts and progress matter and an American with an institutionalized social hierarchy where one’s dignity and value is measured by the color of their skin and their gender, rather than the content of their character.
The America we defend is one where all votes are equal, vs. the Trump version where some votes are more equal than others.
The Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering can either save or irreparably damage the American where there is a equal place for every voter regardless of the basis of their citizenship, the color of their skin, their gender, sexual identity or religion.