Op-Ed: A big reason the South goes red? Gerrymandering and voter suppression
By David Harsanyi
June 24th, 2013
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the big political story of 2013, North Carolina’s House redistricting and what it showed about the growing power of the federal government in our elections.
One big change that emerged in the redistricting was that the Republicans who were redistricted took over the vast majority of the state’s seats in the General Assembly and all but killed the popular initiative that had put the Democrats back in control of the state House of Representatives.
Now, it’s clear that the other big change we should be talking about in North Carolina is the effect of redistricting.
In 2002, North Carolina passed one of the most restrictive redistricting laws in the nation, and because of the Republican majorities in the state legislature and the governor’s office, the law was used to take the Democratic Party for granted. And that, more than anything, tells a story about how the Republicans drew their plan.
The Republicans kept state House and Senate seats open by using “safe districts,” created using the gerrymander and the party’s overwhelming resources, and then, when their chance came along to gerrymander away more incumbents, they did it, just like they’d been trained to do, just like they’d been trained by their leaders to do.
It’s hard to believe that so many millions of public dollars have been poured into elections in North Carolina in 2011 and 2012, without realizing what they’ve been funding. It’s hard to believe that such a corrupt machine could have come into being without the blessing of a majority of the public, without the support of their leadership, and without the blessing of the national party.
It’s hard to believe that with all that money so easily available to the machine you would have to spend so much time and effort just to get a look at what the map looked like.
But that’s what happened last year, thanks to how our state constitution was drawn up.
The last Republican governor left office with a Republican House and Senate, but with a Democratic lieutenant governor and Senate