The whole redistricting debacle finally came to a close after months of back and forth, arguing and scrutinizing redistricting proposals from the General Assembly to the North Carolina Board of Elections, and then ultimately intervention of the courts. We likely won’t hear about ‘gerrymandering’ again until new election maps need to be drawn or when the Board of Elections gets bored with the current one.
Both sides have used the word ‘gerrymandering’ frequently, particularly lately, and specifically by Democrats against Republicans, but why have we agreed that gerrymandering is a bad word?
On its face, ‘gerrymandering’ is basically trying to achieve a specific result by drawing the boundaries of a constituency in a specific way. In order to achieve a representative voter map you need to do this.
North Carolina is becoming more purple, but only in the cities. The rest of the state is very much bright red and strongly Republican. If you are a state official who wants to keep elections fair and make sure every voice is heard, you want a way for the more conservative small town’s voices to be just as present in the conversation as those of the more liberal big cities.
In a popular vote, small towns get drowned out by big cities, which leads to a situation where a large swathe is governed by a concentration of people with an unsympathetic point of view, far from the everyday affairs of the people who have to live with those decisions.
A state body, such as the Board of Elections, should want to try and make sure all voices are represented. In order to do this you need to do some things that aren’t really pretty. Nicely drawn boundaries are not going to best represent everybody. ‘Gerrymandering’ does.
To try and draw a fair map, you need to ‘gerrymander;’ there is no way around that. ‘Gerrymandering’ is essential to establishing fair and honest voter maps and for obvious reason the NC Democratic Party has the interest to prevent that from happening because their increasingly liberal policies are only popular in the cities. Outside of those cities they have limited control.
Republicans should wear the label of ‘gerrymanderer’ as a badge of honor because only then it will lose its potency as an unfair and disingenuous accusation designed to distract those in the middle. It is long overdue we make ‘gerrymandering’ a word synonymous with the natural order of business.