Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Gerrymanders where the west begins

Fort Worth, Texas is known as the place "where the west begins".   This post is about the Fort Worth Gerrymanders - the name I'm going to give a pro sports team if I'm ever rich enough to buy one. 

Gerrymandering is the dark art of fashioning voter districts to give one party or candidate an edge over another.  The term goes back to 1812, when Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry shaped some districts into the shape of something looking like a salamander.  A rival looked at the new map, agreed, and then quipped (for the ages) "It looks more like a Gerrymander". 

Here's a contemporary cartoon. 

In the USA, we have a census every 10 years.  Political districts are then re-drawn by whichever party is in power.  This is why American politicians make such a big deal of controlling Congress in the cycle after a census. 

Congress (and state legislatures) draw maps for new districts.  The party out of power always takes the issue to court, and is usually able to prove that a minority group doesn't have a proper set-aside district. 

(I once read on some typically nasty British website that the USA has two racial groups - "Black" and "Not Black".  I hate that idea, but I cannot argue with it.  To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever fought a court battle to give Asians, Scandinavians, French, Germans, etc., proper representation in government.) 

The courts then mess with it, and we wind up with districts that make Ellbridge's Gerrymander look as simple as Colorado. 

I'm Chairman of the Tarrant County Libertarian Party.  Please enjoy these maps of the Tarrant districts where I'm trying to recruit candidates for the 2014 elections.  In some races, the candidate must live in the district at the time of the election (or for some time earlier).  In others, he must commit to moving there if he wins.  All in all, candidates face a tough battle if they haven't lived in the (ahem) district for quite some time. 

Texas has its own House Of Representatives and its own Senate.  Here are the TX House districts that fall within Tarrant county.  All of these districts sensibly end at the county lines.  All of the money is in 97 and 96.  The military-industrial complex is in 99.  I think 93 is some kind of Hispanic carve-out.  To the best of my knowledge, 98 has a lot of cows.  92 is suburban sprawl.  90 is black.  95 is dark black. 
Please note 90 and 95.  What possible combination of tribalism, racism and paternalism could possibly motivate a court to draw districts like those?   

Here are the Tarrant county Texas Senate districts.  (There are 150 members of the House, but only 31 in the Senate.  Therefore, most of the Senate districts cross county lines.)

Enjoy the cartographic majesty of District 9.  It looks like there's one place in the northeast where the district is less than a block wide.  Bear in mind, this is the same county as shown above!

Here's the map for the U.S. Congressional Districts, the guys who get to go to D.C. and bring home the really big bucks.  On this map, I've shown some of the surrounding counties (Wise, Denton, Dallas, Parker and Johnson) since Congressional districts are much, much larger. 
Whoever drew District 33 sees the world through racist glasses.  He or she might love racial minorities, but no color-blind judge would've ever drawn that godawful mess on a map. 

My little tribe of liberty-lovers is doing well with candidate recruiting. 
Just wanted to post these maps so people in other countries could see the bizarre mess we're up against. 
What's sad about this process is that Black Americans often get their own "safe"district/ghetto, so there is one area, however strangely defined, where someone cares about them and their votes. 
But if these race-based districts were carved up and blended in with the rest?  There would be dozens of areas where politicians had to care about them and their votes. 
Good job, racists. 

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