TakeItBack.org Compares Gerrymandering to Legislators Carving Steak, Leaving Voters with Scraps

Rick Weiland’s TakeItBack.org serves up a video that starts like a promo for steak at Parker’s Bistro but turns out to be Weiland’s latest effort to promote Amendment T, the independent redistricting plan to stop gerrymandering.

That’s poor Drey Samuelson, Weiland’s partner in TakeItBack.org, left gnawing at the bone hacked up by those devilish Legislator-proxy waitresses. and that dragon floating around the video is a South Dakota adaptation of the original March 1812 cartoon that depicted the salamander-shaped district near Boston drawn to favor Governor Eldridge Gerry’s Democratic-Republican Party.


20 Responses to TakeItBack.org Compares Gerrymandering to Legislators Carving Steak, Leaving Voters with Scraps

  1. Stace Nelson

    The 2011 special session for redistricting solidified my disgust for the lack of leadership and dishonesty that infected the GOP caucus. The initial ridiculous attempt to gerrymander Rep Frank Kloucek into a Charles Mix district proposal, the gerrymandering of Lora Hubbel from 99% of the district that elected her, etc, and then the brazen lies denying it publicly as they bragged about it behind closed caucus doors. My standing up and denouncing the lies and calling the actions appropriately “chicken —-” earned me more of the wrath of the RINO leadership.

    I do not see Mr Weiland’s initiative as being the end all solution. What would be more productive, is single representative house districts and a serious look at establishing geographical (permanent) senate districts in the same sense as what we have nationally. Both would take away the opportunity and ability to corrupt he process as we saw in 2011z

  2. PlanningStudent

    I feel like the message is that east river and Sioux Falls should be upset by the out sized, over sized influence of the evil dragon that is Rapid City….

  3. I’ll never understand why we can’t just have districts based upon counties. The higher the population of that county, the more representation they get. End of story. In a high population county like Minnehaha there is no need to break it into tiny pieces because the actions of our elected leaders impact us all equally.

    Gerrymandering has been pushed by both parties when they see an opportunity, and both parties should be ashamed for it. It is quite possibly one of the least democratic practices known to man aside from blatant voter suppression.

  4. Steve Sibson

    “I’ll never understand why we can’t just have districts based upon counties.”

    I agree 100% with the idea of one Rep from each County. That means that the rural conservative culture would get more representation. The Big Government liberals of both parties would oppose that:

    The voting data suggest that people don’t make cities liberal — cities make people liberal.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/11/red-state-blue-city-how-the-urban-rural-divide-is-splitting-america/265686/

  5. Here in America, it is becoming more and more like Mother Russia with our disgusting voting rights that kick democracy straight in the huevos. Gerrymandering is a problem, but it is not the real problem. There are more Democratic voters than Republican voters, but the Democratic voters are turned away from voting for Republican reasons. http://time.com/4370479/voting-rights-problems-primary-general-election/ In the end, it is who has the most money that buys the elections. We are indeed and oligarchy.

  6. Planning Student, yes, we could adjust that graphic to better reflect the foolishness perpetrated in South Dakota. Or we could just strike that floating dragon and focus on that chopped up steak and Drey’s disgust.

  7. Steve: “I agree 100% with the idea of one Rep from each County.”

    I see you conveniently ignored my following sentence where I stated “[t]he higher the population of that county, the more representation they get.”

    It would not be a true representation of the population if we just assume every county gets one rep because we have very sparsely populated counties and many which are more densely populated. I don’t care whether those areas are more conservative or more liberal, the real issue is that everyone is represented fairly.

    This is the same reason why I support the removal of the electoral college because I believe each voice is important, and democracy works better when all of the people are represented… not just some of the people, and not just the people who agree with my viewpoint.

  8. Stace, I share your disgust with the Legislature’s map-rigging.

    Amendment T’s independent redistricting commission would not prevent the further reform of single-member House districts… but absent Amendment T, the Legislature would just rig single-member districts the same way they rig the current districts. Can you explain, Stace, how single-member districts on their own would be more fair than the current system?

    As for permanent Senate districts… indeed, that would stop map-rigging, but over time, wouldn’t it leave us with disproportionate representation for certain areas? If we went with fixed geographical Senate districts but kept population-based House districts, wouldn’t we end up with House districts that spill across Senate district boundaries? Would that be a problem?

  9. Craig’s hybrid system is interesting: districts aligned with counties, representation still proportional to population. Craig, would you stay bicameral, guarantee every county one Senator and one Representative, and then add reps for population? Would you do away with the Senate and go with a strictly proportional House?

    Keep in mind that if we adopted a strictly proportional House, starting with one Rep for the least populous county (Jones), then Lake County would get 11 Reps, Brown County 37, and Lincoln County 48, and Minnehaha County 175.

  10. Darin Larson

    I know the ad probably ties in well with the restaurant angle, but to really get the message across I suggest an ad with the veritable smoke filled room with party big-wig fat-cats chomping on cigars as they divide up the map of South Dakota like it was their own little fiefdoms. Then have a character known as Mr. Amendment T (Like Mr. T) open the shades to let the sunlight in and open the windows to blow the smoke out and kick the fat cats to the curb and give the map of South Dakota back to the people. Man, I should work for L&S.

  11. Don Coyote

    @cah: “Craig’s hybrid system is interesting” … and most likely unconstitutional under Reynolds vs Sims which held that state legislative districts had to be roughly equal in population. One man; one vote principle.

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/supremecourt/rights/landmark_reynolds.html

  12. I like Darin’s concept better than the “cut the steak” concept.

  13. “Craig, would you stay bicameral, guarantee every county one Senator and one Representative, and then add reps for population? Would you do away with the Senate and go with a strictly proportional House?”

    Well I do think Nebraska is on to something, but even if we keep a bicameral structure, there should still be room to simplify the process. We don’t need Minnehaha County with 175 Reps by any means, and I’m open to suggestions – but perhaps we could at least consider merging lower population, adjacent counties so they meet the threshold for representation while continuing to tie district borders to a county border in some manner.

    If we can do it on a national level where the entire state of South Dakota gets one Rep while California gets 53, surely we can find a way to make it work on the state level as well. The main point is that by removing arbitrary man-made districts and forcing politicians to stick to geographical boundaries which will not change over time will ensure a more honest and fair democratic process. I doubt a politician who recommends redrawing county borders would be very popular, so it removes the manipulation from the hands of those most likely to abuse it.

    I know those in lower population density areas won’t like it, but perhaps that is because they acknowledge they have been over-represented. If each voter is to be treated equally, then yes cities like Sioux Falls, Rapid City, and Aberdeen (and their respective Counties) should hold more voting power than a county like Jones, Harding, Sully, or Hyde which collectively have fewer residents than the city of Harrisburg.

  14. Ror, I like Darin’s Mr. T suggestion… but I wonder if pairing Amendment T with Mr. T would do more for proponents or opponents? Do we win on weird machismo/nostalgia/hipsterism synergy, or could Mr. T be used to make a mockery of the Amendment?

  15. Craig, if we merge counties to prevent rural overrepresentation, do you want separate districts within counties, or would you have Minnehaha County voters choose 10 at-large representatives on one ballot?

  16. But then Coyote spoils our fun with his instructive case law. Interesting: the Equal Protection Clause requires legislative districts of roughly equal population to preserve the principle of “one person, one vote,” yet the U.S. Constitution can remain internally inconsistent with its unequal apportionment of Senate seats. Is there no way to apply counties’ rights the way we apply states’ rights and say that counties (cities? regions?) deserve some voice to counterbalance strictly popular representation in legislatures just as the Senate allows states to counter straight popular power? Which principle should give way?

  17. Steve Sibson

    “Senate allows states to counter straight popular power? Which principle should give way?”

    When you add the fact that the Senate was determined by state legislatures and not by popular vote, we have already begun to give away state rights and now we have rule of the urban over the worldview of the rural folks.

  18. Sibby, rural folks have been rejecting their own worldview for 200 years by moving to the city. I’m happy to embrace democratic pluralism and protect basic universal human rights, but I hesitate to give one geographical group extra voting rights just because you prefer their worldview (which I’m not convinced yet is as monolithic as you suggest).

    But that idea gets us way away from the original point, which is that whatever legislative district lines we decide to draw, we should draw them by fair methods, not by the selfish interests and whims of legislators standing for re-election.

  19. Craig, if we merge counties to prevent rural overrepresentation, do you want separate districts within counties, or would you have Minnehaha County voters choose 10 at-large representatives on one ballot?

    I don’t want separate districts within counties as that is what we already have and it opens up the door to more manipulation by whichever party happens to be in power at the time the boundaries are redrawn.

    I’d rather have all of the representatives be at-large. They all represent the entire area anyway and interests of one part of the county rarely differ from those from another part. It could make for an interesting ballot of course, but since it seems more common for people to just vote based upon the little “R” or “D” after their names it likely wouldn’t change the outcome.

  20. I would prefer the at-large arrangement to districts within counties. As you say, those sub-county districts become arbitrary divisions.

    I wonder: what’s the largest at-large ballot out there? Can we find examples of districts, counties, whatever, where residents elect a slate of ten or more representatives? I would suspect that a county/population-based system would result in numbers at least that big from Minnehaha County compared to single reps from Jones and Harding.