Downside of Power by Gerrymandering: 18% of Country Steering Entire Boat, Blindly

With a h/t to Don Brancaccio who sent me this Ryan Lizza piece on Where The GOP’s Suicide Caucus Lives we explore the extreme downside to the GOP’s 2010 win and subsequent gerrymandering to set themselves up with phony baloney jobs in Congress, for life. 

The ability of eighty members of the House of Representatives to push the Republican Party into a strategic course that is condemned by the party’s top strategists is a historical oddity. It’s especially strange when you consider some of the numbers behind the suicide caucus. As we approach a likely government shutdown this month and then a more perilous fight over raising the debt ceiling in October, it’s worth considering the demographics and geography of the eighty districts whose members have steered national policy over the past few weeks.

These 80 tea partiers from the reddest of red districts represent just 18% of the country, mostly from the South, almost all from white, rural districts drawn up to make them oh so cushy safe for Republicans to have and to hold so that the wackiest gun totin’, anti-government, Ayn Rand-loving, Red Dawn-watching weasels can go to D.C., trash the country and still be (theoretically) reelected. 


While the most salient demographic fact about America is that it is becoming more diverse, Republican districts actually became less diverse in 2012. According to figures compiled by The Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman, a leading expert on House demographics who provided me with most of the raw data I’ve used here, the average House Republican district became two percentage points more white in 2012.

In short, these eighty members represent an America where the population is getting whiter, where there are few major cities, where Obama lost the last election in a landslide, and where the Republican Party is becoming more dominant and more popular. Meanwhile, in national politics, each of these trends is actually reversed.

This phenomenon flummoxes the mainstream media because explaining how screwed up this situation is, by definition, is going to upset conservatives and look like liberal bias – the thing they have bent themselves into pretzels not to look like.  Also, while these 80 crackpots are dead set to (1) shut down the government and (2) deny increasing the debt ceiling and crash the economy ALL TO STOP OBAMACARE, for these 80 nuts, its RATIONAL. In fact, if they didn’t do it, some drooling cro magnon even nuttier than them would primary challenge them, accuse them of going squishy, and probably win!


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