Every time I post about gerrymandering on my Facebook page, someone says it in the comments:
ARNOLD, STOP BEING SUCH A LIBERAL.
ARNOLD, YOU’RE A RINO (Republican in name only, an insult preferred by people who have never heard of Reagan’s big tent).
First of all – relax, I am a proud Republican, and that will never change.
Second, your comments really worry me, because I think some of you are putting partisan blinders on and missing one of the biggest scams politicians have ever pulled on the American people.
Gerrymandering isn’t a political issue. It is a power issue. Republicans who have power gerrymander. Democrats who have power gerrymander.
Just this week, I filed an amicus brief in a case the Supreme Court has decided to hear about Maryland’s Democratic gerrymander.
And last September, I filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court Case regarding Wisconsin’s Republican gerrymander.
Republicans get a lot of the news because in 2011, they were incredibly effective in their gerrymandering efforts as they controlled more statehouses. But Democrats still successfully gerrymandered multiple states, including Maryland, Illinois, and West Virginia. In fact, there is basically a tie for the two most gerrymandered states in America: Maryland, by Democrats; and North Carolina, by Republicans.
And let’s not forget, historically, Democrats have been pretty efficient at gerrymandering when they’ve had power. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s check in with President Reagan:
And since he’s my hero, here’s another Reagan quote: “In 1984 there were 397 congressional races contested by both parties. In the races, Republicans won half a million more votes than the Democrats, but the Democratic Party won 31 more seats.”
If I told you that quote was from a Democrat in 2018, you wouldn’t think twice. So why have both parties complained about gerrymandering for years without fixing the problem?
Because politicians love it. Gerrymandering means they get to pick their voters instead of letting the voters pick them. And picking their voters means they don’t have to fight for their jobs in competitive elections.
They get a job for life, and they never have to do anything but carefully draw maps every 10 years. Who wouldn’t love it?
The voters. We are supposed to be their bosses, but instead, they’ve flipped the script. They don’t get anything done because they have forgotten they work for us. How long have we heard about the growing national debt? About border security and immigration reform? About our crumbling infrastructure? Nothing gets done, but 97% of them get re-elected.
If you hired a plumber to fix your toilet and he came to your house, ate your food, and left without touching the toilet, I assume you wouldn’t hire him again. But we keep re-hiring the same members of Congress every 2 years, because the maps they have drawn for themselves give us no other choice. Their AVERAGE margin of victory is 37%. Just for reference, do you remember Iranian President Ahmadinejad? His margin of victory in 2009 was only 29%.
Our Congress has literally created a system where they perform better in elections than dictators from the Axis of Evil. It’s time to change that.
There are solutions. In California, we know all about gerrymandering. Between 2002 and 2010, we held 265 congressional elections (53 seats x 5 election cycles). One seat changed party hands. That is not a typo. One. The politicians had locked themselves into their jobs so effectively that there was more turnover in the former Soviet Politburo.
But we campaigned for a new system, and our voters approved an independent commission of citizens – not politicians – to draw the lines. 5 Republicans, 5 Democrats, and 4 Independents drew our maps in 2011. They didn’t look at party data. And sure enough, 26% of our members of Congress either lost or chose to retire in that first election with fair maps.
Many states don’t have the strong initiative process we have in California, and to be honest, I have very little faith in the same state legislatures who have rigged the system to repair it. So I am hopeful that the Supreme Court, after hearing these two cases, will say enough is enough.
It’s time to give the power back to the people.
And that’s the whole point. This is not a partisan issue. It isn’t a Republican or a Democratic issue. It’s a power issue. And it’s time for the power to rest with the people, instead of the politicians.
I have noticed that many of you who become reflexively angry when I post about reforming our redistricting system also comment about “draining the swamp.”
Let me ask you this: if you believe in draining the swamp, why do you defend a job protection program for members of Congress? If you really want to drain the swamp, making it easier to vote Congress out of power through fair elections is a great first step.
Let’s fight for a fair system together. Let’s draw maps that don’t favor Republicans, Democrats, or anyone but the voters. Let’s make Washington work for us again.
Now, if you’d like to revisit some of my videos with an open mind, here they are:
Once you’ve done that, join my campaign to terminate gerrymandering. I’m matching all donations: www.makewashingtonworkforus.com
Arnold Schwarzenegger is the former Governor of California and will forever be the Terminator.