Very few people have ever used “cool” and “redistricting” in the same headline, but longtime readers will know that I’m a bit of a redistricting nerd — my first substantive political experience was as staffer in the Texas Legislature during a 1992 redistricting special session, and I’ve never quite recovered from walking into my first (absolutely literally) smoke-filled room in its waning days. Anyway, with this year’s post-Census line-drawing just about done (about whose implications you were warned in 2009), Google’s put together a handy map of new Congressional districts across the country:
For a good example of why redistricting’s so important in determining the make-up of Congress, let’s zoom in on lovely Austin, Texas — a liberal hub in a conservative state:
Looks like you done stirred up a big ol’ messa snakes! Or more precisely, a big ol’ messa Gerrymanders. You see, it just wouldn’t be DO to allow central Austin residents their own Congressmember, ’cause they might elect some crazy Librul (Librulism bein’ next to Communism in the modern Texas political dictionary). And since the Texas Legislature ain’t allowin’ that to happen, they carve the city up and distribute its residents among districts that stretch all the way down to San Antonio and waaaaaay on out past the Hill Country. What happened to Austin shows how Texas Democrats get screwed out of any shred of power — the state voted 43.72% for Obama in 2008, and even in 2010 was only 60% Republican, but its current Congressional delegation has a 23-9 Republican advantage.
The power to redistrict is political power at its most pure and its most raw. Never forget it.