by Tom Evslin
There’s good news out there for democracy. We can us it!
Gerrymanders breed extreme partisans. If a district is “safe” for either the Ds or the Rs, then whoever wins the primary in the district wins the general election. The primary, in effect, becomes the election. The voters in primaries, only a small fraction of those who vote in general elections, tend to be extreme. Therefor candidates move to the extreme left or right to win the primary and get onto office.
If a district is competitive, the need to appeal to the broad electorate in the upcoming general election (usually) keeps candidates reasonably near the center. Primary voters then must think about electability as well as their hyper-partisan wishes.
Every ten years districts must be redrawn to reflect the most recent census. Each party does its best to win advantage from this process and accuses the other party of abuse of process. Since redistricting is done under state law at the state level, a party which controls the governorship and both houses of the state legislature usually has an advantage. Incumbents of either party also like getting re-elected so they have a stake in gerrymandering which is only selfish, not partisan.
The good news is that state courts this year have reversed some egregious gerrymanders on the basis of state laws or the state constitution. The most prominent reversal so far is in New York where the highest state court mandated a less-partisan revision of the electoral map drawn by a Democratic governor with super-majorities in both houses of the legislature. It speaks well of the justice system that all the justices who voted for the 4-3 decision were appointed by Democratic governors.
In North Carolina a Republican drawn map was rejected as unconstitutionally partisan. The court produced its own map, and that map survived an appeal to the US Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court also let stand a court-drawn map in Pennsylvania which replaced one drawn by Republicans. In other states, allegedly partisan maps have not been overturned.
At the beginning of the 2022 election cycle, “experts” said that redistricting would advantage Republicans. Then, after the NY legislature circumvented the state constitution in its enormous attempted gerrymander, it looked like the advantage had shifted to the Democrats nationally. Now it looks like the puts and takes of redistricting will be about a draw as far as partisan advantage. What’s a loss for partisans is a gain for the rest of us. But only a small gain so far.
Aid to Ukraine
Congress just passed a $40 billion aid to Ukraine bill which President Biden has now signed. The best news is that Ukraine will get another installment of the aid that it needs. Also good news is that a majority of both parties in both houses voted for the bill despite the fact that the extreme left and the extreme right have not been fans of supporting Ukrainian resistance. The parties were not held hostage to their extreme wings.
The Democrats got all their left wing on board; good for them. That includes the squad, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, who have until now been pretty successful at pulling the party their way on other issues.
There were a significant number of Republican no votes although most Republicans voted in favor of Ukraine. This continues an unfortunate isolationist Republican minority tradition we also saw before the second world war. Even worse, there is a fascist tinge to the isolationism now as there was then.
Nevertheless, according to Politico:
“Aid for Ukraine goes far beyond charity,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the floor Thursday morning. “The future of America’s security and core strategic interests will be shaped by the outcome of this fight.”
The Republican leader called on “every senator on both sides to join this bipartisan supermajority” in passing the bill. “Anyone concerned about the cost of supporting a Ukrainian victory should consider the much larger cost should Ukraine lose,” McConnell said.
Australia Sets a Good Example
According to Associated Press via Politico, defeated incumbent Scott Morrison conceded before all of the races were decided so that his successor could quickly be sworn in.
“I believe it’s very important that this country has certainty. I think it’s very important this country can move forward,” Morrison said.
“And particularly over the course of this week with the important meetings that are being held, I think it’s vitally important there’s a very clear understanding about the government of this country,” he added.
A very good lesson for you know whom.
The author, an author, entrepreneur, former Vermont state cabinet officer, lives in Stowe. He founded NG Advantage, a natural gas truck delivery company. This commentary is republished with permission from his blog, Fractals of Change.