One only needs to look to Asheville, North Carolina to see the extreme polarity that has developed in American politics over the last decade or so.
Gerrymandering is the practice of drawing political maps in a way that gives one political party an obvious advantage over the other. Asheville, the largest city in the western portion of North Carolina, finds itself torn at the seams by Gerrymandering. The result is a complete alteration of the political nature of the city,
Before the past decade, North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District was extremely competitive and shifted its control back and forth between Democrats and Republicans. The district leaned toward Republicans in the years that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11. The district began to favor the Democrats in the mid-2000s as residents grew dissatisfied with war efforts.
There is no more swing in the 11th Congressional District of North Carolina. The district now showcases two ultra-conservative members of congress, both of whom were elected by double-digit margins since 2012.
The reason behind the shift is a switch from a single district map that preserved competitiveness to a split map that guarantees Republican success. The switch has serious implications for the area as now the true election is the GOP primaries. Because of this, only heavy conservative candidates stand a chance in Asheville.
The campaign of Mark Meadows is a perfect example. Meadows was successful in the primary of 2012 by running on the promise to send Barack Obama back to Kenya. Meadows still retains the seat he won in 2012 and made his impact felt as soon as he arrived in Washington. Meadows was able to run off John Boehner before becoming the main architect of the 2013 government shutdown. Meadows has also taken multiple shots at Obamacare and is now a loyal supporter of Donald Trump.
Predictably, many residents of the district are left with the feeling their voices are not being heard. Recently, the new map has been blocked for use in the 2020 election by judges.
This situation is not unique. In truth, it is happening all over the country. The potential devastation to the concept of democracy is unsettling as the stage is set for minority rule. More than 60 million Americans currently live in a district in which the controlling party received fewer votes than the losing party. One study showed that 59 Congressional seats would change hands without the benefit of Gerrymandering.
Gerrymandering has been a part of American politics since the country’s beginning and technology has only served to make the practice more dangerous. It does not have to be this way. Most Americans dislike Gerrymandering and are against the idea of politicians creating their own districts. Gerrymandering is a self-inflicted wound that is completely reversible.