I have (with others) inveighed mightily against the cheats that have come close to ruining American democracy. For example, elsewhere I oft claim blackmail is the sole plausible explanation for the behavior of so many in Washington DC. I recommend easy ways to find out if I’m right.
Even worse is gerrymandering, abetted by the wholly-treasonous Roberts Doctrine, that has warped US politics, shifting power from the General Election to primaries, where radicals exert vastly amplified influence.
See “Radicalization by primary has driven the GOP mad.” Though - at risk of being accused of ‘both-side-ism’ - the same thing has happened (to a lesser degree) on the U.S. left.
In a hurry to learn the ‘trick’ to amplify your vote-power?
Then skim down past the following explanations, to the *** part...
... where I describe a practical way that YOU… and maybe 50 million Americans … might restore your sovereign power as a citizen.
== Why do I keep trying? ==
My own past efforts to urge judo tactics on our ‘generals’ leading the Union side in this phase of U.S. Civil War include a book — Polemical Judo -- containing almost a hundred agile tactics to break a gone-mad Republican Party’s hold on many institutions, states and 40% of our neighbors... asking: “Have you noticed a path past those trenches and around that mountain?”
Alas, among political castes and pundits — even good guys! — new ideas and methods are not-welcome. Oh, there are paladins like AOC, Stacey Abrams and DNC Chair Jaime Harrison, who must spend inordinate time corralling flakes eager to repeat their betrayals of 80, 88, 94, 2000, 2010 and 2016, spurning the only coalition that stands any chance of stopping the forces of darkness. See Five devastating rebuttals to use those who would split our coalition.
If November 2020 was our Gettysburg, turning the tide from Trumpism, science-hating idiocracy and treason, remember that it took another 20 months from Gettysburg to Appomattox and America’s rebirth of freedom.
So here’s my top suggestion for how citizens like you might help fight the wave of Holnists trying to wreck our Great Experiment.
== The essence of this crime ==
The Roberts majority on the Supreme Court has one mission, above all. Not abortion or corporatism, but to preserve gerrymandering - the sole thing keeping the GOP relevant in the House and in state legislatures. Without it, there might still be a Republican power in the U.S. Senate. But the party would collapse almost everywhere else.
Crucially, gerrymandering lets politicians choose the voters, instead of voters choosing politicians. It creates mostly ‘safe” districts in which the General Election is a farce.
The only balloting most reps and assembly members fear is their party’s primary, explaining much of today’s riled-up radicalism of U.S. politics. See how the New York Times made a game to help you understand it.
And the sole top priority of John Roberts is to protect this situation.
Do you live in such a district, frustrated that you will never, ever get to help elect someone you like, or thwart representatives you despise? Then skip ahead to the next section ***
Only first… how does this foul cheat endure, in the face of a vast American consensus against it? John Roberts even admitted that it’s loathsome and inherently wrong. In order to protect it, he concocted the Roberts Doctrine, that the U.S. Supreme Court has no business ruling on the processes and procedures adopted by sovereign state legislatures. Not even when they are cheating voters in order to maintain power that large majorities want to take away from them!
Of course this ploy is an absolutely stunning sham! Since the Supreme Court has intervened countless times in such matters. In fact, Roberts avows that Congress could overcome gerrymandering, if it chooses, via the Voting Rights Act. Hence, a top priority of McConnell & co. has been to stymie that.
In defense of his Doctrine, the Chief Justice contrived an even more amazing rationalization — that while gerrymandering is ‘regrettable,’ alas ‘no remedy” had been presented without flaws of its own.
Okay, sure, giving the job of forging fair districts to a neutral commission can pose problems too, maybe 1% as bad as letting legislatures do it! But… what if Biden sent the Solicitor General back before the Court with a fresh approach? One that cancels all of JR’s rationalized excuses?
If you're curious, see the Minimal Overlap Solution that I offered in Polemical Judo, and summarized here.
There is pushback against gerrymandering! Barack Obama is trying to persuade Democrats in Illinois and Maryland to join a swell of fellow blue states in banishing gerrymandering, even if that would briefly disadvantage a few local, DP politicians. The nasty cheat would hence become a universally Republican crime. The same way that blue states have been leading the way out of the thrice-damned Drug War. The fight continues at many levels, with GOP led state legislatures (as in Texas and Ohio) aggressively applying the Roberts doctrine, using power gained by theft and cheating to empower themselves to cheat and steal more.
Late news: A state court in Maryland has struck down the Democratic-drawn congressional map as an illegal partisan gerrymander, ordering the state legislature to redraw the lines for the 2022 election. Of course! These MD judges were Democrat-appointed and hence professionals, not hired shills. Any sane jurist would rule against this cheat, even by his or her own party.
Alas, some of the same lawyers are blocking reforms of gerrymandering in Texas.
Reforming this travesty through normal processes will take forever. And hence my key point. You don’t have to wait for politicians to solve this!
== To hell with labels! Register in the party OF your district! ==
All right, that was a lot of hot air. Lots of words and tl:dr details.
“Will you finally get to the point, Brin?
How can I get my voting power back,
even if I live in a gerrymandered district?”
*** Okay here's the fundamental:
IN GERRIED DISTRICTS IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PRIMARY, STUPID!
Consider: Gerrymandering lumps birds-of-a-feather till each district is “owned” by one party or another. Democratic voters in a Republican-owned district – or Republicans in a Democratic-owned district – will never cast a legislature vote in the only election that matters: the majority party’s primary.
Unless… you hold your nose and re-register with whatever party owns your district.
This holds true whether you’re a Democrat in a Republican district, or vice versa.
If your district is gerried to contain mostly Republicans, then maybe it should be represented by a conservative person!
But, as a district resident, you deserve to have some say in which variant of conservative it will be!
- A Tea Party radical?
- A slavish oligarchy-servant, or Nazi, or Roy Moore-style pederast?
- Or else perhaps a genteel negotiator, like a Goldwater or Buckley? Such a person may not be the AOC-type you'd prefer. But sanity counts! As does a willingness to negotiate. And to be fed up with Trumpism.
Conservative radicals will scream if they detect former Democrats or Independents doing this! Non Trumpites who attempt this kind of judo must be aiming to sabotage the Republican primary! But any large numbers who switch will have one goal: to recover a meaningful say in a district that had disenfranchised them.
- To vote in the only election that matters.
- To vote for candidates they disagree with less – or who at least aren’t perverts or crooks.
- That's a reasonable criterion.
Would it stick in your gorge to register Republican?
(Or would it gall a conservative in Ilhan Omar’s district to register Democrat?)
Does a label change your principles?
Remember Republicans of yore – Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower – and sign the damn card!
In fact, this tactic has a century of precedents – generations of Republicans registered as Democrats in the old-time “solid south,” for exactly this reason: to vote in the only election that mattered, the Democratic Party’s primary!
They can hardly complain now.
== RECLAIM YOUR SOVEREIGNTY ==
Picture the majority party primary in each gerrymandered district becoming the de facto general election, with all voters participating. Screamers and radicals would lose potency. Representatives could no longer pick which citizens to ignore by their party registration.
Moreover, if enough Democrats and independents re-register as Republicans, it will screw up their calculations, their polls, and the data they use to gerrymander! That, alone, will be citizen revenge upon a cynical political caste.
And it has no effect on your freedom to choose in the general election.
Can’t stomach registering as a (pick your poison) Democrat/Republican? Get over it! Partisan labels made this mess. Grin at your friends’ shocked reactions.
Then recruit them, rebelling against a political scam.
If fifty million Americans do this, we’ll show the politicians: “you can’t take us for granted, nor fool all the people, all the time.”
== Finally: This sort of trick should not be necessary! ==
I did this in California, back when we had classic primaries-by-party. Then, in a terrific reform pushed by the Berggruen Institute and others, CA voters establish the best electoral process in the nation, turning to a universal-open primary that's in-effect a first round general election, so that in November the top-two vote-getters face each other.
It is in fact a crude version of preferential or rank choice balloting, which is starting to gain traction in some places. Positive effects abound, including a decline in primary-driven radicalism and an unexpected empowerment of minority party voters in many districts.
But that's a discussion for our lively comment section, below.
 In some states (AL being one) you don’t have to register a party affiliation to vote in their primary! Just tell them you want the other party’s ballot. It does mean you have to stay in the same "lane" in any runoffs, of course. But it also means you can influence the real election, without having to actually join a party you detest!
LATE NEWS: The Supreme Court stays out of key state rulings on partisan gerrymandering, for now. Within the last month, state courts in both North Carolina and Pennsylvania drew new congressional district maps after finding that their state legislatures failed to adopt plans that met state constitutional and statutory requirements. Republican-aligned groups then asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the state court decisions and adopt a newly advanced — and some say radical — theory that would bar state supreme courts from ruling on election disputes involving federal offices.
On Monday, the court declined both of those challenges, a relief to voting rights advocates but likely only a temporary reprieve, as four of the court's conservative justices indicated their desire to intervene.