Op-Ed: A big reason the South goes red? Gerrymandering and voter suppression to keep out black voters
The only way to fix America is to start over. I am talking about the South’s electoral system. What does it take to truly fix the South?
The South has suffered decades of Democratic voter suppression and gerrymandering. Those policies have consistently prevented black and brown Americans from voting.
And the voters who have suffered most from these policies have been the low-income and minority communities that have seen their clout diminish.
For centuries, politicians in the South have conspired with their wealthy and well-connected neighbors to ensure their candidates are elected. With the advent of the “Reform” era, that meant changing the map, with the goal of keeping the votes of white (and increasingly, black) voters in their own hands.
And that’s exactly how it’s happened ever since, with the result of having Democrats sweep into power virtually every single decade.
But this time, something changed. Democrats took a new approach that wasn’t about the election of as many people as possible, but rather their ability to control what people wanted to listen to and see. The result was that the mainstream message that was once a constant in Southern politics, and was the primary means of keeping that party in power, became the exception, and in the end, was the one thing voters are no longer supposed to remember.
Here’s how it happened.
When Democrats first won control of the South in 1964, they made one of the largest changes in state gerrymandering since the creation of the U.S. Congress. They redrew state House and Senate districts, and placed them so that all the voters in every district would represent the same number of people in the state house, and the same number in the state senate.
Since then, some states have shifted to the so-called “safe districts” system, in which the only way to elect a candidate is to vote for them in a district where the two candidates have a roughly even chance of winning.
But this was not the new normal of the South. For generations, Democrats redrew the boundaries to ensure that their candidates were within a few hundred votes from the next county. (This did not stop them from trying to rig the numbers to ensure their candidate would win by