According to many experts and pundits, dysfunctional government is a product of gerrymandering Districts. State legislators and governors carve up states every 10 years, adjusting and redefining political boundaries to accommodate populations in equal numbers.
There is an excellent review of this subject at this link: http://soaznewsx.com/Playground2/Articles/ID/1732/Point-Counterpoint-Franzi-vs-Evans--Gerrymander
Of course politicians do this in a way that is intentionally politically discriminatory. If a party’s characteristics are skewed economically or along various ideological lines, the end result will be discriminatory boundary-setting. In that process minorities of all sorts based on race, wealth, and other factors will be cut out or fenced in.
Racial gerrymandering is an institutional crime that has happened many times. It is one reason why we had the Voting Rights Act. It may be one reason why right-wing conservatives have fought so hard against the Voting Rights Act because it messes up their game.
Consider this story that is a testimonial from a person who lived in Arlington, Virginia. It illustrates how defining boundaries can lead to racial and economic discrimination. It is about a woman whose family lived on the edge of Hall’s Hill. Hall’s Hill is a neighborhood named after one of the first free slaves during the Civil War. Free slaves were encouraged to congregate on Hall’s Hill.
Murr Brewster writes about her recollection.
“I knew what history was. It was a record of things that happened to white people. Other colors of people didn't write anything down. They may have had better memories. Also, it was stuff that happened Before Murr. Most everything B.M. held no interest for me. There was a large war that had happened in the decade before I was born and it might as well have been the Crusades as far as I was concerned. The only time history was fun for me was when we could go to Williamsburg, Virginia, and stick my sister in leg stocks.
I recently began to be interested in American history because I was writing a novel that took place B.M. and felt the need to be more up-to-date on it, if it is possible to be up-to-date on history. The Civil War period baffled me. But I paid greater attention to the Ken Burns film when it was reprised. In the last fifteen minutes of the documentary I was surprised to hear that one of the generals had led his men up Hall's Hill. I know Hall's Hill! I had no idea it had historical cachet. Robert E. Lee I knew, because he had a famous highway named after him that I grew up a block away from. And Hall's Hill was just around the corner, down Lee Highway. Hall's Hill was where we kept all our colored folk in Arlington, Virginia in the fifties. Al's Bar and Grill was at the top end where you could see it and there was never any reason to go down any of the other streets.
Northern Virginia is more cosmopolitan than the rest of Virginia: I don't remember seeing any helpful signs on the drinking fountains to let you know what color water you were dealing with. Mostly we did without that sort of thing, because we had all the colored people bunched up in Hall's Hill all neat and tidy, and all we had to do then was zone things around it. So there was a colored school, and there were the Regular schools, and that was that. You were assigned based on your address alone, and it worked out just fine without anybody having to spell anything out. Sometimes there were slip-ups. I do remember we couldn't get into the Overlee swimming pool because our house was stuck like a scab on the edge of Hall's Hill and we were zoned out. They didn't want any black kids in the Overlee pool in case they made the water turn color, but that was silly--all the kids did that at one time or another.
Anyway, I did some checking, and it turns out Hall's Hill was the first place they established for freed slaves right at the end of the Civil War, and their descendants stayed put for a good hundred years. They didn't start leaking out until just about the time I went away to college, and I haven't been back. That's not why, though.”
Today, Arlington County, Virginia is a Democrat district and is known to be politically liberal. The population is diverse and integrated. Here is a link that illustrates that the fight to prevent gerrymandering from causing harm continues. The battle has not been won.
“UNITED STATES v. HAYS, ___ U.S. ___ (1995)
UNITED STATES v. HAYS, ___ U.S. ___ (1995)
UNITED STATES, APPELLANT v. RAY HAYS et al.
APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF
Argued April 19, 1995
Decided June 29, 1995 *
[ Footnote * ] Page I Together with No. 94-627, Louisiana et al. v. Hays et al., also on appeal from the same court.
Appellees claim in this litigation that Louisiana's congressional redistricting plan (Act 1) is a racial gerrymander that violates the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. While their claim's primary focus is District 4, a majority-minority district, appellees live in District 5. The District Court invalidated Act 1, and the State and the United States, which had precleared Act 1 pursuant to its authority under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, appealed directly to this Court.
Appellees lack standing to challenge Act 1. This Court has recognized that a generalized grievance against allegedly illegal governmental conduct is insufficient to provide standing, see, e.g., Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464 , and has applied that rule in the equal protection context, see Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 755 . Thus, appellees' position that "anybody in the State" can state a racial gerrymander claim is rejected, and they must show that they, personally, have been subjected to a racial classification. Appellees, however, have pointed to no evidence tending to show that they have suffered personal injury, and review of the record has revealed none. Assuming arguendo that the evidence here is sufficient to state a claim under Shaw v. Reno, 509 U.S. ___, with respect to District 4, it does not prove that the State Legislature intended District 5 to have a particular racial composition. Similarly, the fact that Act 1 affects all Louisiana voters by classifying each Page II of them as a member of a particular congressional district does not mean that every voter has standing to challenge Act 1 as a racial classification. The Court's holding in Powers v. Ohio, 499 U.S. 400 , that an individual has the right not to be excluded from a jury on account of race does not support appellees' position. A juror so excluded has personally suffered the race-based harm recognized in Powers, and it is the fact of personal injury that appellees have failed to establish here. Pp. 5-11.
862 F. Supp. 119, vacated and remanded.
O'CONNOR, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., and SCALIA, KENNEDY, SOUTER, THOMAS, and BREYER, JJ., joined. BREYER, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which SOUTER, J., joined. STEVENS, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. GINSBURG, J., concurred in the judgment. [ UNITED STATES v. HAYS, ___ U.S. ___ (1995) , 1]
JUSTICE O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court.
We held in Shaw v. Reno, 509 U.S. ___ (1993), that a plaintiff may state a claim for relief under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by alleging that a State "adopted a reapportionment scheme so irrational on its face that it can be understood only as an effort to segregate voters into separate voting districts because of their race, and that the separation lacks sufficient justification." Id., at ___ (slip op., at 26). Appellees Ray Hays, Edward Adams, Susan Shaw Singleton, and Gary Stokley claim that the State of Louisiana's congressional districting plan is such a "racial gerrymander," and that it violates the Fourteenth Amendment. But appellees do not live in the district that is the primary focus of their racial gerrymandering claim, and they have not otherwise demonstrated that they, personally, have been subjected to a racial classification. For that reason, we conclude that appellees lack standing to bring this lawsuit. [ UNITED STATES v. HAYS, ___ U.S. ___ (1995) , 2]”
More attention needs to be given to this subject because it is a part of the systemic failure of the American Political System.