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Ratf**ked: Why Your Vote Doesn't Count 1st Edition
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Daley’s book provides a blow-by-blow account of how this happened. He draws on investigative reports, interviews and court documents to give readers an eye-opening tour of a process that many Americans never see….What Daley makes clear is that ruthless partisan gerrymandering is not good for democracy and makes it that much more difficult to wrestle control of the House away from the GOP. Democrats should read this book. — Julian E. Zelizer (Washington Post)
Extraordinarily timely and undeniably important. — Alex Wagner (New York Times Book Review)
Compelling. — Elizabeth Kolbert (The New Yorker)
The way dark money was translated into congressional majorities is one of the great, sinister stories of our time. But in David Daley the shadow figures have finally met their match. — Thomas Frank, author of What’s the Matter with Kansas
About the Author
David Daley is the editor in chief of Salon and the Digital Media Fellow for the Wilson Center for Humanities and the Arts and the Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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As Daley says:
"The simple truth is this: America is the only major democracy in the world that allows politicians to pick their own voters. And since the 2010 election, the system has been gamed to create an artificial— but foolproof— Republican majority in the House and in state capitals nationwide."
Republicans smartly seized the advantage after President Barack Obama's sweeping 2008 electoral victory. Their Operation Redmap targeted control of statehouses in which state legislatures were empowered to redraw their state's US congressional maps. This task takes place every decade in response to electoral college rebalancing among the states after the census.
The result of Operation Redmap: shocking, complete victory of every target this DC-based crew went after nationwide. I give credit to Daley here for the tone of his book: though he's clearly unsettled -- and, at times, disgusted -- by the operation and its outcomes, he accords respect to the people that foresaw and executed it, even making note of the civility and openness with which they are willing to discuss and recount the campaign. In particular, Chris Jankowski -- described in Daley's pages as "the Mastermind" -- comes across as a genteel gentleman, far removed from anyone's vision of a dark, malevolent, backstage puppetmaster.
As much as Daley would like to see this outcome as some dirty deed perpetrated against the Democrats, he instead smartly asks:
"How could this happen to the Democrats? How could a party with such a genuine demographic edge get out-organized, out-strategized and out-energized in election after election?"
But the operation has had its blowback, too. Daley takes us on a state-by-state redistricting highlight tour. One stop: Ohio, where John Boehner's political team helped draw the post 2010 map. As Daley notes, the monster -- now unleashed -- turned on one of its enablers:
"But as John Boehner’s political team helped influence Ohio’s new congressional lines, he probably never imagined that his party’s aggressive redistricting maneuvers would contribute to his being toppled as Speaker of the House just four years later. [The operation] had blowback, and there would be unintended consequences— for the Republican Party and the entire U.S. government."
And, that's where we are now. It's going to take years, if not decades, to unwind all this mess.
Since that time both parties have practiced gerrymandering to a greater or lesser degree, but the Republicans raised it to a higher art form early in this century. They did this by implementing a three-step plan:
- first, they provided funding to state congressional races in order to obtain veto-proof majorities in state legislatures. The republican party very strategically picked republican candidates in key states and provided them with almost unprecedented funding so that their campaigns and advertising budgets would overwhelm their opponents. The plan was spectacularly successful and resulted in republicans taking over large number of seats in a number of important state legislatures.
- second, following the 2010 census, when the new census results mandated that state districts be re-evaluated, the republican controlled state legislatures used their power to very carefully re-draw the boundaries of enough districts in order to ensure that the voting from those districts would be strongly in favor of any future republican candidates.
- third, in the following years when states elected their representatives to the U.S. House of Representatives, the newly constructed state districts performed as planned and brought significant numbers of new Republican faces to Washington D.C., bringing control of the House solidly into Republican hands.
We are living with this result now. Our national elections for state representatives are strongly skewed in favor of the Republicans, and there is nothing that can be done about it until (at least) the next census takes place in 2020. At that time, another re-evaluation of state districts will be done, but whether or not the Democrats will be able to change the present situation is very unclear. If the state legislatures continue to be controlled by Republicans then the situation will persist.
On the one hand this is simply an example of something both political parties have been doing for many years. The Republicans simply did it better than the Democrats this most recent time, and they are reaping their rewards. Next time it won't be so easy for either party, both having now seen the results of what was done in recent years.
This book describes in detail how this was done, the people behind the strategy and the story on a state-by-state basis as it was played out. It's a fascinating look at modern day politics, out in the open to see the bad along with the good.