Non-Partisan Re-Districting v Gerrymandering

Non-Partisan Re-Districting v Gerrymandering

Also posted online at, July 11, 2015

In the 1984 movie “All of Me,” Steve Martin plays a reluctant lawyer sent by his office to do the bidding of a very rich and very eccentric woman played by Lily Tomlin. The woman is quite sickly and has in fact called the lawyer to finalize her will. But that doesn’t stop her from verbally abusing him. She is snobby and condescending, and finally the lawyer (who hates having to work for snobby and condescending rich people in the first place) blows up, yelling at her:

“Just because my grandfather didn’t rape the environment and exploit the workers doesn’t make me a peasant. And it’s not that he didn’t want to rape the environment and exploit the workers; I’m sure he did. It’s just that as a barber, he didn’t have that much opportunity.”

I love it. It perfectly expresses Democrat posturing on the gerrymandering issue: It’s not that they don’t want to gerrymander like the Republicans — it’s just that they don’t currently have the opportunity. Which is exactly why districts must be redrawn by a nonpartisan commission. Whoever is in power should not be able to use redistricting to enhance their power. This “to the victors belong the spoils” system of tyrants is counter to the checks-and-balances system that our government was founded on.

For Republicans, this should really be a no-brainer. For years they have positioned themselves as the alternative to corrupt Democratic political machines: Boss Tweed’s New York City, Richard Daley’s Chicago, Coleman Young’s Detroit. By continuing to gerrymander and defend its practice, Republicans carry on the legacy of these political machines, consolidating power for party insiders while disenfranchising voters. Sometimes I think we could power Grand Rapids by the electricity generated by Gerald Ford spinning in his grave.

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