I asked Daily Republic readers last week to please explain why 38 Republicans in the Senate voted down a United Nations treaty that would ban discrimination against people with disabilities.
There were no comments in response on the Daily Republic website, but I did receive one email that talked about the United States yielding its sovereignty. Some Republican lawmakers said they voted “no” on the treaty because they were standing up for home schooling and against abortion, invoking magic words used to explain the unexplainable while warding off attacks from far-right fanatics.
The most interesting comment I saw in the Daily Republic blogosphere last week was from frequent contributor, RLW. There was a letter to the editor that mentioned America had re-elected a “fiscally responsible Congress.” RLW responded:
“I assume Mr. S means the Republicans held on to their majority in the House of Representatives. That can be attributed to shameless gerrymandering by Republican-controlled states after the 2010 elections. There were more Democratic votes for the House than Republican nationwide, but gerrymandering allowed the Republicans to lose ‘only’ eight seats and retain their majority. Imagine what would have happened if the entire country had gone to a redistricting commission like California? Instead, we get results like in Ohio and Pennsylvania, two states Obama carried. Because of complete Republican control of the state houses and legislatures, and their skills at gerrymandering, both states returned large majorities of Republicans to the House: 12 out of 16 seats from Ohio and 13 out of 18 seats from Pennsylvania.”
RLW makes excellent points. Besides Ohio and Pennsylvania, Michigan, too, had its districts gerrymandered by a Republican-run state house. Democrat Barack Obama beat Republican Mitt Romney by 10 percentage points in Michigan and Democrats running for the U.S. House of Representatives got more votes than Republicans, but due to gerrymandering, the Democrats will only have five representatives going to Congress, versus nine Republicans.
Wisconsin Republicans also play this game. Most Wisconsin voters voted for a Democrat to represent them in Congress but, due to gerrymandering by a Republican-controlled state house, they will be sending five Republicans to the House of Representatives and only three Democrats. Now add Florida, Virginia, Texas and North Carolina to this list of shame.
The bottom line is this: Nationwide, the Democrats got almost a million more votes than Republicans for the U.S. House of Representatives, yet Republicans hold 55 percent of the seats. Maybe we should call it the House of “Representatives.”
Next on the Republican agenda is to have their states’ presidential electoral votes be parceled out by using their gerrymandered districts, rather than winner-take-all, further removing the popular vote from the election of our president. It’s as though Republicans know they can’t win a fair race. We’ve discussed Republican voter suppression tactics in this column before, but gerrymandering is different. It is a blatant, shameless, quantifiable violation of the values Americans hold dear. Most Americans believe in “one man, one vote,” and assume our one vote will count the same as our next-door neighbor’s.
In many states, it doesn’t.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is currently pushing for national voting rights reform. Good luck getting that through the Republican-run House. Last Tuesday, Mr. Holder said, “This nation has come too far, and its people – from all races, religions, creeds, backgrounds and walks of life – have sacrificed too much not to finish the task of ensuring equal voting rights for all Americans.” I would respectfully add that in addition to equal voting rights for all Americans, the right for every vote to be equal for all Americans is just as important.
Mike Kirchubel grew up in Fairfield and is the author of “Vile Acts of Evil – Banking in America.” He can be reached at [email protected]