A new documentary series called America Divided debuts on the EPIX network this Friday at 9 PM ET, and it delves into the many injustices associated with inequality in America, whether they be political, social, or economic. One segment features actor and comedian Zach Galifianakis taking a more serious turn that focuses on the absurdities of gerrymandering. Galifianakis is no stranger to North Carolina politics, since his uncle Nick Galifianakis actually represented Durham in Congress from 1966 until 1972, when he lost a Senate race against odious racist Sen. Jesse Helms.
In this short preview from The Nation (which you can watch below the fold), the younger Galifianakis and former Democratic state Sen. Margaret Dickson explore some of the most flagrantly gerrymandered legislative districts in the country: North Carolina’s 19th and 21st state Senate districts, which you can see in the map at the top of this post. In 2011, Republican legislators drew those monstrous tentacles to scoop out as many black voters as they could from the 19th and pack them into the heavily Democratic 21st in order to make the otherwise swingy 19th District less hospitable to Democrats. Dickson had represented the 19th until narrowly losing in 2010, but Republicans even drew her home out of her old district to deter her from running again in 2012.
A federal court recently struck down these districts and others in North Carolina as unconstitutional racial gerrymanders, but only after Republicans had already enjoyed the advantage of using them in 2012, 2014, and 2016. While these kinds of machinations often take place out of the public eye, Americans invariably respond with outrage when they learn about districts like these that so shamelessly serve no purpose except to manipulate the electorate for partisan gain. We desperately need to end partisan gerrymandering nationally, and it’s great to see people with star power like Galifianakis shine a light on one of the gravest injustices in our political system.