There are few things Republicans HATE more than President Obama’s second inauguration, which took place despite all their attempts to keep Democrats from voting and make it look like their extreme, tea-baggin’ base had grassroots support. No wonder they’re bound and determined to make sure something like this NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN. Who cares if millions of voters have fled the party and that the majority of Americans support the Democrats’ agenda and voted Obama back into office with a clear mandate?
According to last week’s reports from myself, my AI colleague T. Steelman, and … more importantly … Rachel Maddow (’cause honestly, who cares about just plain old us?), the Republicans don’t NEED no stinkin’ popular vote or public support! Thanks to their “RedMaps” strategy, the GOP has future presidential elections all locked up. And don’t get your hopes up about winning the House either.
In a series of reports, Maddow explains how Republicans are hijacking the popular vote for national elections in four easy steps.
1. Win under-the-radar local elections: Last Friday, Maddow reported on how the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC)’s REDistricting MAjority Project — called “RedMap” for short — bragged about their strategy of winning GOP majorities at the state level in 2009 and 2010, so they could take control of state legislatures and start gerrymandering districts in their favor (as shown in Figure 1). According to Maddow, a recently released GOP memo claims that “their RedMap program was the only reason Republicans did not lose everything in this past election.” The RedMap report explained how the GOP — by focusing on low-cost, under-the-radar elections at the local level — “took control of 21 legislative bodies and moved one from Democratic control to being evenly divided,” and effectively seized control of redistricting for future elections.
2. Use new majorities to gerrymander state legislature and congressional districts in their favor: Back in December, Maddow deftly explained — in just 90 seconds — how Republicans manipulated local districts to achieve disproportionate representation in the Michigan State House. The above chart (Figure 2) shows how Michigan’s 2,387,756 Democrats are represented by only 51 House members, while only 2,040,126 Republicans are represented by 59 House members. As my AI colleague Egberto Willies explains, gerrymandering districts in key swing states like Michigan — while decades of using propaganda to make “liberal” a dirty word — enables Republicans to claim that America leans conservative, even though the majority supports “liberal” policies like Social Security, Medicare, unemployment compensation, gay marriage, civil rights, and equality.
3. Use redistricting to ‘win’ seats in the US House of Representatives in 2010 and 2012: Last Thursday, Maddow reported that Republicans are saying that “It is only because of RedMap that the Republicans hold the house right now.” She quotes from the RedMap report: “Aggregated numbers show […] that 2012 could have been a repeat of 2008, when voters gave control of the White House and both chambers of Congress to Democrats.” Based on figures from the RSLC’s RedMap report — not “some liberal blog or some feverish dream I had after the last time I wore my tinfoil hat” — Maddow showed how four GOP-controlled states voted Democratic, as shown above in Figure 3. In Pennsylvania, 83,000 more people voted for Democrats, yet the Republicans control 13 state districts over the Democrats’ five. In Michigan, the Republicans control nine districts, compared to the Democrats’ five districts, even though over 240,000 more citizens voted Democratic. In Ohio, Democrats took 52% of the votes but only control 25% of the legislature. Wisconsin’s electorate is more closely divided, but even though 7% more people voted for Obama, the Republicans control over 71% of the seats. in their state legislature.
4. Change state-level electoral college rules so Democratic candidates can’t win the presidency: Since early last week, Maddow has been sounding the alarm that this will be the GOP’s next steps. On Friday, she said, “We have been documenting over the past few days what appear to be a coordinated effort by Republicans in a number of key states to change the rules for electing a president … to change the rules so essentially Democrats running for president cannot win.” Thanks to the RedMap program, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida are all controlled by Republican governors and by Republican majorities in both chambers of their state legislatures. Virginia has already passed a law, which will essentially ensure that electoral votes conform to their gerrymandered RedMaps. Had this law been in effect back in November, Barack Obama would have only gotten four out of Virginia’s 13 electoral votes, as shown in Figure 4, despite having a 149,298 majority of the popular vote.
And just to ratchet up the slime factor, the Virginia Senate waited until Democratic Senator Henry Marsh left to attend the president’s inauguration before voting on the bill. “Virginia senators had to wait until he was gone because the Senate is equally divided in Virginia, with 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats,” exclaimed an appalled Maddow. Because of the even split, Virginia’s Lt. Governor, Bill Bolling typically casts the tie-breaking vote in situations like this. But even the state’s number two Republican thought this was a dirty trick and refused to support it. That left the GOP lawmakers with no option but to wait until a Democrat left town and they could skew the numbers in their favor without having to rely on Bolling. As it so happened, they waited until one of Virginia’s most preeminent civil rights icons (and the first black mayor of Richmond, the capitol of the Confederacy) was at the second inauguration of the nation’s first black president to launch their attack. Throwing up yet?
Yet Virginia’s law — the first of its kind — still stands, and other states are poised to follow suit. Already, Pennsylvanian Republicans have a similar bill in committee.
Here’s Rachel Maddow’s January 17th video (alas, only if you have the Flash plug-in enabled):
Here’s the January 18th video (alas, only if you have the Flash plug-in enabled):
For more information and updates, visit Rachel Maddow’s blog at maddowblog.msnbc.com.
|Elisabeth Parker is a writer, Web designer, mom, political junkie, and dilettante. Come visit her at ElisabethParker.Com, “like” her on facebook, or follow her on Twitter. For more articles by Elisabeth, click here.|