Gerrymandered into a corner

E.J. Dionne of WaPo makes the following observation today:

[T]here is an important truth to what the president’s camp is saying: Republicans in Congress who privately express grave doubts about Trump will be reluctant to break with him as long as he remains strong among those who dominate party primaries and could threaten their reelection.

State lawmakers across America have been so successful at transforming their congressional districts into non-competitive Democratic and Republican enclaves that they have gerrymandered their congressional representatives into a corner. Even Republicans who want to provide correction to DJT’s agenda can’t afford to step out and lead, because to do so would anger the president’s minority-sized support base.

And why should a Republican member of Congress worry about a noisy minority?

Because the boundaries of too many congressional districts have been redrawn so extensively that they contain extra-rich concentrations of either GOP or Democrat voters. In far too many districts, the only elections that matter any more are the primaries. In my own CD, the incumbent Republican puts all his energy into winning the party nomination. The general election is an afterthought.

It’s the fringes of the parties that dominate the primaries. In the case of the GOP, that means Trump voters are in charge, punching above their weight.

If we had more balanced, competitive congressional districts, members of the majority party in Congress would have less to fear from the DJT minority among the American electorate. They could provide the leadership necessary to oppose the president where necessary.

Instead, they have gerrymandered themselves into the captivity of a third of the electorate.

Dept. of Corroborating Testimony


[T]he president remains intensely unpopular among Democrats, who continue to nurture hopes that Trump is one Russia connection away from impeachment. As a senior White House official told me of Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court: “The comment we often get from Democrats is, ‘That’s a great nominee.’ Oh, so you’re voting for him? ‘I can’t.’ Why not? ‘My base would go crazy, and I’d be primaried.’ That environment has to change before we can have any of these conversations.”

Robert Draper, March 26, NYT Magazine, Trump vs. Congress: Now What?


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