With Gerrymandering, Republicans Have a Starting-Line Advantage of 10 Percent

Janine Jackson: We are definitely in challenging times, but it’s useful to remember that it isn’t that Americans per se are opposed to gun control, human rights for LGBTQ people, or affordable healthcare. At the same time, it’s painful to remember why it appears that we are. It’s because, as a recent piece by Neal Gabler for BillMoyers.com reminds us, we don’t have a working democracy where every voice is heard: A minority of people have outsized power.

One of the reasons for that is being considered right now in the Supreme Court. Recalled by many of us as an old-timey graphic in middle school textbooks, the term “gerrymander” refers to the drawing of political districts in such a way as to benefit a particular party. The case Gill v. Whitford is focused on Wisconsin, where in 2012 Republicans won just 48.6 percent of the statewide vote, but captured 60 out of 99 seats in the state assembly.

Here to help us see what’s going on and what’s at stake is Steven Rosenfeld. He covers national political issues for AlterNet, and he’s author of a number of books, including the forthcoming Inside Job: How American Elections Are Still Rigged Against Voters. He joins us now by phone from San Francisco. Welcome to CounterSpin, Steven Rosenfeld.

Steven Rosenfeld: Thank you very much. I’m glad to be here.

Wisconsin is asking the Supreme Court to overturn a decision striking down the 2011 redistricting plan for the lower house of their state assembly. Can you remind us what happened in Wisconsin that led to this being the test case for this issue?

What happened was the Republicans, after they got completely trounced by Obama in 2008, saw a way back from political wilderness, as the cliche goes, and they realized that if they won enough seats in state legislatures in 2010 that they could draw the maps that would last this decade. So Karl Rove wrote about this in the Wall Street Journal, the Democrats from Nancy Pelosi to Obama completely ignored it, and then the Republicans…

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