Dividing America through Gerrymandering

Since 2000, the political powerhouse known as California has possessed 53 seats in the House of Representatives. However, the 2020 National Census saw the state’s chokehold on politics begin to loosen as it witnessed the loss of a representative seat. 

The lost seats will go to states with increasing population sizes such as Florida and Texas. However, as the population changes, the validity of the representation in the state may be skewed toward one political party. Without verifying how accurate the representation is, American politics will be heading down a treacherous path.

A term coined in the 1800s, gerrymandering is when a political group draws district lines to favor their party within state elections. This can be physically observed when looking at district maps containing jagged and peculiarly shaped borders– telltale indicators of gerrymandering.

 In doing so, the representation in the state becomes inaccurate and can result in a state’s government carrying out the plan of one set party rather than reflecting the popular opinion among its people.

The practice groups specific demographics to benefit a party, with racial gerrymandering being the most common form. In this instance, political parties may split apart specific neighborhoods to favor a white majority vote, even if the white population is not the majority in that area. 

The use of gerrymandering can be seen most frequently in Texas, where Republican lawmakers are currently attempting to pass new plans that draw districts in favor of white voters. The newly proposed plan gives overrepresentation to parts of Texas with primarily white demographics by unfairly dividing the other racial groups; according to the 2020 U.S. Census, 39.8% of the Texas population consists of white Americans, while 39.3% is Hispanic, 11.8% Black and 5.4% Asian. By spreading out the other races in Texas, white neighborhoods get an excessive amount of representation, compared to communities consisting of people of color which are left at a disadvantage.

As it stands, 21 states use a form of a non-partisan, or bipartisan, commission to plan out the drawing of district lines with California being one of them. This arrangement allows for a third party to create districts without implicit bias toward a political party.

On the other hand, Florida and Texas lawmakers use a different system in which they vote on proposed plans, then use a majority rule to accept or deny these plans. 

However, a major flaw in this process is that once a state has been gerrymandered to one party, that party can continue to falsely hold the majority in that state. 

Not to mention, Florida and Texas are only two of the many examples that demonstrate the overarching issue with gerrymandering: states cannot trust political parties to draw lines that fairly represent the majority. 

If states continue to use such flawed forms of drawing district lines, unequal representation of the population will persist. The occurrence of gerrymandering becomes especially alarming in states with increasing political power, as mass misrepresentation of the American people becomes a reality.