Last night I published an article which I wrote an article entitled “No One Wants to Lead the Rowdy Bunch” for this blog. In it I examined the present interesting dynamics in the House of Representatives which is one of the main reasons why the favorability rating of the US Congress is hovering around 11%. Don’t know how long that kind of poll has existed, but even if they we asking poll questions about Congress’ favorability ratings door to door right after the Revolutionary War, this has to be one of the lowest ratings in history.
The culprits are a group of 40 to 45 Republican Representatives who have been driving their Republican leaders in the House crazy and who caused House Speaker John Boehner to retire from Congress early. Most of these Congressmen are recent arrivals in the House who won their elections running on Tea Party platforms. They call themselves the Freedom Caucus; I called them the Rowdy Bunch.
I pointed out in my article that though they were primarily responsible for the 17 day government shutdown in 2013, and would have done it again recently had they been left to their own devices, they are very unlikely to face repercussions from the voters at home. The reason being that most of them represent deeply conservative districts where the high jinxes they performed while in the service of their country are far more likely to be cheered than condemned. What I did not get into is why those Congressional districts are so heavily populated with deeply conservative voters.
This morning I read an excellent op-ed article on the same subject which Hedrick Smith, the former Washington bureau chief of the New York Times, wrote for the Los Angeles Times. Smith’s article went even deeper than mine as explored why those heavily conservative Congressional districts which spanned the Rowdy Bunch even exist. As he points out they are the product of gerrymandering, the process of determining the boundaries of electoral districts for the purpose of producing a specific political results.
I basically understood that gerrymandering was involved in why in 2012 Republicans won 55% of the seats in the US House of Representatives even though nationwide Democratic House candidates combined to win 1.4 million more votes than their Republicans opponents. What I didn’t understand was exactly how the Republicans pulled that off.
Hedrick Smith’s excellent article explores that subject in depth and also how explains how some states are attempting to take the “fix” out of House elections. Here is the link to Smith’s article: Gerrymandering may prove a Pyrrhic victory for the GOP
I also came across an article by Greg Giroux on the Bloomberg website which further explains the gerrymandering in which the Republicans in state legislative positions engaged in order to “fix” the 2012 and 2014 Congressional elections: Republicans Win Congress as Democrats Get Most Votes
It’s time that more people understand how the Republicans have come to dominate the US House of Representatives without deserving to and how they used their unfair advantage to make a mess of our political system. Spread the word.
The Origin of the Term Gerrymandering
The term gerrymandering dates back to a political cartoon printed in March of 1812 which depicted a Congressional district put together in Massachusetts to ensure the election of Democratic-Republican candidate Elbridge Gerry over his Federalist opponent. The cartoonist drew the district to resemble a dragon-like monster, but many in the public thought it more resembled a salamander. By putting Elbridge’s last name and the word salamander together, the term “Gerrymander” was born. Here’s and image of the cartoon: