By now you've probably heard that last November, American voters chose to give Democrats control of the presidency and both chambers of congress in this past election. Wait, both chambers? No, Republicans maintained control of the House despite Democratic candidates receiving 1% more votes than Republicans. How could this possibly happen? Well thanks to gerrymandering, Republicans have an unfair advantage in the House of Representatives and were able to hold onto power when the public voted them out. Repeat after me, this is no different than when George W. Bush won the electoral college while losing the popular vote. The will of the people is being denied and Democrats need to WAKE THE F*CK UP and get angry the way we did after Republicans stole the election in 2000. Tell all of your Democratic and left leaning friends and even your annoying libertarian relatives that through legalized theft known as gerrymandering Republicans stole the House of Representatives.
Nationally, Democrats won 50.6% of the two party share of the House popular vote, but only won 46.2% of the seats. Breaking it down by some of the states we get:
In every state, Republicans won a higher seat share than their vote share (Georgia and a few others are deflated since some Republicans were uncontested). Though gerrymandering didn't contribute a great deal in states like Georgia where drawing single-member districts is what screws us, there are others like Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas where gerrymandering cost us multiple seats per state.
In contrast, Democrats had far fewer opportunities and weren't nearly as ruthless and in Arkansas even gerrymandered a map that gave Republicans all four seats! In both Illinois and Maryland we could have gained 1 more seat with more aggressive maps.
Looking at some states that had an independent or bipartisan commission or a court draw the map, on average the seat shares are much more representative of the partisan vote shares.
So what can we do, no what must we do, if we want to have a functioning democracy free of Republican hostage taking over the debt ceiling, harsh austerity, and institutionalized gridlock? Our immediate priority needs to be an organized effort to put non-partisan redistricting constitutional amendments on the ballot in states Republicans gerrymandered the crap out of. When the Supreme Court won't strike down partisan gerrymanders, establishing through ballot measure an independent citizens commission like that in California or that in Arizona is our best option over the near term. Longer term, we need to focus on winning the governor's office in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania in 2018 to veto Republican maps. However, with the prospect of not being able to take the house until 2022 at the earliest under the current maps, redrawing the lines is the only way we have a shot at taking the house this decade.
Here's where you, me, the rest of the Daily Kos community, and Democrats in general come in. We need to get active in organizing these constitutional amendment initiatives in certain states, meaning fundraising, signature collection, and campaigning once these measures are on the ballot. Independent redistricting, when the campaign is properly funded, polls very well and is a slam dunk at the ballot box. Passing these amendments now can give us several more seats in the House and help even out Republicans' unfair advantage. The bang for the buck is tremendous compared to the average congressional campaign and if you've ever donated money to a federal Democratic candidate, your return on investment will be even better here.
Being just a college student in North Carolina, I don't have a budget or a political network of activists and volunteers at my disposal, but I do have time, motivation, and most importantly the facts. So to summarize:
The 3 states where initiatives will be most effective are 1. Michigan, 2. Ohio, and 3. Florida
The steps we need are:
1: Organization - we can start by planning a campaign to coordinate activists and volunteers so that we can start fundraising and circulating petitions. This is where those of you with experience working for and/or running campaigns, or the connections to those who have themselves will come in. Aside from fundraising, this will be the most important step as
2: Fundraising - Daily Kos users have contributed millions of dollars over the years to various Democratic campaigns at all levels. If we can tap into just a fraction of that potential, the return will be much higher than donating to any particular congressional candidate.
3: Activism - This could be as simple as informing your fellow Democrats of the fact that we won the house popular vote and gerrymandering is the reason Republicans are still in power. This is no different than had Obama won the popular vote and lost the electoral college and every Dem should realize this. Additionally, those of us in Michigan, Ohio, or Florida can help gather signatures and do the nuts and bolts things that constitute modern campaigning once the measures are on the ballot. So whether you just want to spread the word or go out and volunteer, please do something!
All in all, these three states could send anywhere from 7 to 13 more Democrats to Congress and give us a vastly improved chance at breaking Republicans' hold over the state legislatures in all three states
So if you're on board thus far and want to learn about specifics, follow me over the fold to see what the maps currently and might look like for each state and the steps required to place these measures on the ballot.
Edit - Thanks everyone for helping this get on the rec list :) I look forward to having discussions on how we can begin to organize these types of ballot measures.