Gerrymandering: A Double-edged Sword

The shutdown ended, the debt ceiling hiked, and House Republicans found themselves bewildered by a backfiring strategy to retreat the Affordable Care Act.

With a follow-up due by 15 January 2014 for the funding issue, and the limit on borrowing to pay for debt requiring another tune-up by 7 February 2014, the question firing among the people: what will snap the American government out of their funk?

One of the major adverse interactions behind the GOP House attempt against the ACA comes from the nature of House seats and the reality of gerrymandering. State lawmakers try to draw their districts to empower their party-mates and suppress those outside of their party.

But the pretense of parties then rears its head. The reality that no such thing as parties can truly exist, so long as humans do not become automatons, shines through.

The party line, a fiction, only holds so long as it does not damage those holding it. But when select interests who identify with the party find themselves underrepresented, they will seek to magnify their attention within the party.

Whence primaried. Another way to say it: reverse-gerrymandered. The district, drawn too strictly and too strongly for your party position, swung around you. The center moved to your right. What now?

Now, the fiction of parties mainly serves special interests that hitch on to the party. But when the party sours, from party to Tea Party to Tea Pirates, either the interest groups will drift solo, or remain tethered to a listing ship.

If the former, they hope for short rescue, the latter for new hands to right the ship. Blood in the water attracts sharks. The opposition interests find new purchase, new avenues of attack, while the interests tethered to the soured party bail and pump the bilges and panic.

At some point one must question the sensibility of gerrymandering, a trap set too tight for the trapper’s own good. It caricatures the electorate, makes fools of good men, as they must take up increasingly contorted poses to fit the party mold.

But the party member sees himself as but an acolyte. As he twists half-way, so the politician must make a three-quarters twist. And so on. And then, one fine day: snap goes the neck, crunch goes the bone, squirt goes the blood, and out go the lights in the eyes of the extremist politicians trying to find standing ground in a world they turned upside down.

The aftermath of gerrymandering comes chaos. Some to any semi-sane third-party around, some to the formerly minority party. Some to the wind, out of Dodge, never to vote again or to speak of the strange rituals they partook on the Tea Pirate ship.

Rumors among the people of cannibalism sneak in between nervous laughter and a tired hope for a better government. Too much to ask.

Oh, do not call this bleak. The demise of the Tea Party (be it in 2014 or in years to come) will bring renewed hope. The center will normalize to a truer equilibrium, for example. The minority party strength will grow.

The memetic force of the Tea Party relies on the notion that the government fold up like a map, and that their politicians can fold that map. Neither bear out. They promised the world and delivered nothing. But at least the people still will another shot at the reform game, even if they chose such a lackluster option.