Elbridge Gerry and me

Since the Gerry gentleman’s dates (1744-1814) precede mine, he never knew me. But I know him, and for more than his most prominent connection, the portmanteau term “gerrymander.”

Elbridge Gerry, as I’m learning from reading The People’s Constitution, by John F. Kowal and Wilfred U. Codrington III (2021, The New Press), was an active participant in our Revolution and all our founding documents; he was most insistent upon the Bill of Rights. He served in many elected and appointed governmental capacities in the new United States.

So he was a good guy, a verifiable Founding Father.

I’m not going to delve into the reason his name became a label for the now-reprehensible practice of redistricting states into wacky shapes like a salamander, but here we are.

When John Roberts’ Supreme Court decided that a highly efficient, non-partisan method for redistricting was “gobbledegook” (that was the actual word Roberts used), and thus allowed states to continue gerrymandering, I was crushed and furious.

Lately, I’ve been seeing drafts of redistricting maps coming out of states. If I had a sense of humor about this, I’d get cute in labeling some of these districts. But I have no sense of humor about a radical minority, egregiously not devoted to anything like responsible governance, seizing seats and power by this method.

So you’d have to judge me an anti-gerrymandering supporter. Turn the work over to a non-partisan commission, use computer analyses, whatever. But do not gerrymander your state.

Right. If Congress is able to pass one or both of the potent voting rights acts now in the Senate which will apply universally, i.e., to all states, well, OK. But all states must be subject to the same rules which will send “gerrymander” into the glossary of antiquated political practice and terminology.

But until such legislation passes, I don’t want my very blue state, New York, to be a highly moral Goodie Two Shoes about redistricting. Gail Collins explains the redistricting situation in NYS better than anybody:

Every state has its own special way of getting redistricting done. But one common approach is a bipartisan commission, given the task of redrawing the district maps. Said commission then goes over all the relevant data, feeds it into a computer, comes up with the boundary lines and then retires to private life bearing the thanks of a grateful state.


If Texas is going to gerrymander, I want all blue states to gerrymander in defense.

Because the NYS census came up 89 census forms short, we’ve lost two congressional seats. I’ve read that if the State legislature decides not to accept the ever-so-decent redistricting map, they can draw one which will eliminate maybe as many as five congressional seats.

We all have our favorites for elimination. A few names I’ll drop (all Trump supporters): Elise Stefanik, Lee Zeldin (who’s planning a run for governor anyway) and, oh, how about Claudia Tenney? She who has been paying her own businesses $$$ for providing services to her campaign? That one.

That’s my confession, and I issue it without a moment of shame.






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