On Sunday, June 4th, the Politics for the People book club spent an hour in conversation with David Daley, the author of RATF**KED: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy. The book outlines the Republican Party campaign begun after the 2008 Presidential election, called REDMAP, to (rather inexpensively) win a sufficient number of state legislatures to control the redistricting process after the 2010 census (the redrawing of district lines is done state by state every 10 years, following each census). It is a modern day whodunnit, and examines one of the myriad ways in which our political process is currently run by the political parties at the expense of the American people.
You can listen to the full recording of our conversation at the end of this post, or take a look at the highlights below.
Our first audio clip is my introduction of David Daley and includes an overview of the book and how the Republican Party took the dark art of gerrymandering to a whole new level. He calls is the “…biggest heist in American electoral political history”. I ask David if gerrymandering is fundamentally a controversy and fight about which party is going to win over the other. If so, why should independents be concerned about leveling the playing field between Republicans and Democrats? It is a rich exchange. Have a listen.
Politics for the People book club members then joined the conversation with their questions. Tiani Coleman, the President of New Hampshire Independent Voters shared that in reading the book, “…we were able to see how gerrymandered safe districts have created a very partisan, polarized House, where many voters don’t have a real voice because their vote makes no difference, and where the outcome is not reflective of the majority will of the voters. Do you agree with Larry Lessig that “equality” or lack thereof, is the flaw? And do you think creating more competitive districts will fully provide that equality to all voters?” Give a listen to their conversation where David shares his thoughts on open primaries and the importance of competition:
PJ Steiner, a leader with the Utah League of Independent Voters, talked about efforts he is involved with to reform redistricting. They discuss the issue of independent commissions. You can hear their exchange here:
Dr. Jessie Fields and David talk about how redistricting and gerrymandering impact the African American community, talking about the recent Supreme Court decision in NC. Jessie expresses concern about the way the African American community is taken for granted by the Democratic Party. She asks how can we give more power and weight to the voter? Is the 14th Amendment relative to redistricting reform? You can listen to their conversation here:
Phil Leech, a member of Voters Not Politicians in Michigan talked about how fortunate he feels that they have the right to citizen initiative and referendum in Michigan where they are actively pursuing redistricting reform. He asked David to speak about the prospects for fair redistricting on the national level given that so many states do not have an initiative process. David shares that there is no easy answer even though “…voters of all stripes and parties” support reform. Listen here:
Julie Leek and David talked about Julie’s experience at a civics forum at her home church in NC and the hesitancy of a state Supreme Court Judge to address the issue. You can hear their exchange here:
Our final question came from Independent Voting’s general counsel, Harry Kresky. Harry raised concerns with the Supreme Court’s ruling n the North Carolina case. It seemed the court was evaluating whether the lines drawn went further than necessary to get the “desired outcome”. At what point does the judiciary itself become implicated in gerrymandering if outcome is the standard? Listen to Harry and David’s fascinating exchange here:
You can listen to the entire Politics for the People book club conversation with David Daley:
we will announcing our next
Politics for the People
Book Club Selection Soon