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Pardon The Reality: The Gerrycat that ate democracy

I believe in both majority rule and minority rights in the political arena, yet both seem to be manipulated in today’s America to the point that minority rule keeps winning the day and democracy is cynically cast aside.

In the U.S. Senate, where 60% of Senators are elected by about 40% of the people, filibuster rules no longer require the filibuster-er to actually show up. Senate Republicans—the minority—have exploited the no-show rule to routinely prevent Democratic legislation from ever reaching the floor for a vote (Majority Leader Harry Reid might have done something about filibuster rules by the time you read this, but…courage).

In the meantime, Democratic voters across America have been disenfranchised by new widespread extreme gerrymandering in states politically controlled by Republicans. In Pennsylvania, for example, Republicans won 13 of 18 Congressional House seats in 2012, but lost the aggregate popular vote, 2.7 million to 2.6 million.

So even though the new House received 1.3 million more Democratic than Republican votes, gerrymandering allowed Republicans to handily maintain a majority. Republicans enjoyed a 53.5% to 46.5% popular vote victory when they won the House in 2010. But in 2012, they only garnered 48% of the vote, yet lost just eight seats.

That’s what minority rule is all about.

One result: although polls show 55%-60% of Americans favoring a ban on assault weapons, and 57%-65% favoring a ban on high capacity ammunition clips, neither ban is given a prayer of getting through Congress.

America The Banana Republic.

In Lewisboro, we’re saddled with a newly gerrymandered 40th State Senate district that includes sculptured chunks of Putnam and Dutchess counties in addition to a curiously carved section of Westchester.

The district so created doesn’t look like a salamander: it’s a cat pouncing on a hunk of cheese.

Unfortunately, that cheese is called “democracy.”

To see the district map, go here: www.nysenate.gov/district/40 .

To compare it to the 2001 version, go here: bit.ly/T1hvQs.

Voter registration in the 40th favors Democrats over Republicans, 35.4% to 32.5%, but the actual voting tendencies of the Gerrycat’s anatomical parts were well known when the animal was created.

So this past November, state Sen. Greg Ball, who ran a sleazy, wholly dishonest “I-am-a-moderate” reelection campaign, even though he’s one of the Senate’s most doctrinaire far-right members, lost in Westchester, 48,384 to 43,767, but won in Dutchess, 5,161 to 3,243, and in Putnam, 15,761 to 10,476.

You really must see the district map to fully appreciate that virtually any Republican is all but assured of victory in the Gerrycat. Please: try the links.

BTW: Guess how Ball voted on New York’s new gun control bill.

During his reelection campaign, Ball bragged that “I partnered with Governor Cuomo” to bring wondrous good to New York. Yet the night the gun bill passed, Ball stated on the Senate floor, “We haven’t saved any lives tonight, except one: the political life of a governor who wants to be president” (and, “Good night, I voted no and I only wish I could have done it twice”).

In a Jan. 15 appearance on Sean Hannity’s fiction-fest, Ball also said, “You may be on drugs if you don’t think that Cuomo wants to confiscate (our guns)…And Gov. Cuomo’s staff will have more than seven bullets, I promise you that.”

Greg Ball, the voice of NRA minority reason.

Don’t you wish you’d been paying attention when Ball and fellow Senate Republicans were creating our Gerrycat-pouncing-on-democracy after violating their signed 2011 pledge to establish anti-gerrymandering legislation?

I wish I had (I’m not a cat-lover, anyway).

People: If we want to start fighting minority rule, we must get involved.

Good government requires citizens to be adults, which means taking responsibility for our actions and our society.

Each individual needs to find out what the heck is going on, not count on someone else to do it.

Because no matter how much we pathetic Majoritarians quietly fume (which is our usual level of actual involvement in local, state and federal government), the right-wing minority keeps getting its way.

To wit: We now have Greg Ball as our voice of reason in the State Senate for another two years.

And we have our Gerrycat until 2021.

Think about that.

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  • John Galt

    Funny, no mention of the 93rd assembly district gerrymandered by Sheldon Silver to get rid of assemblyman Bob Castelli, a crossover Republican who like Greg Ball showed a distinct ability to work with Gov. Cuomo to promote the interests of Northern Westchester taxpayers against those of the CSEA Union/Silver machine in Albany.

    In Sen. Ball’s district the changes did not tip the balance of registered voters. In the 93rd, Mr. Silver gerrymandered enough White Plains Democrats into a map winding from Harrison to North Salem to ensure that Castelli lost despite the unprecedented number of crossover Democrats he attracted.

    Had Bob been there, the mistakes made in the gun bill, supported by his opponent, would not have occurred and the legislature would not have had to waste time and money to correct it as demanded by law enforcement officials, and common sense would have prevailed and maximum clip size would have been the standard eight rather than seven, saving taxpayers the expense of buying new clips and preventing manufacturers from receiving a windfall.

    More importantly, the grandstanding of labeling a hunting rifle an “assault” rifle in order to make the legislation more palatable would have been replaced by a more global approach to gun violence tailored to reduce the illegal use of guns and by providing more support to families struggling to deal with mental illness at home.

    Thankfully, we live ain republic, artfully formed to avoid the tyranny of majority factions.

  • Sons and Daughters

    Stigmatizing law-abiding gun owners is not the way to foster a productive discussion about gun violence. Kudos to both the Senator and the Putnam County Clerk for having the political courage to stand up to the Journal News.

    Sure Ball cooperated with the Governor on the budget and the tax cap, but he has been critical as Cuomo backslides on mandate relief. A new law which affects only law-abiding citizens and ignores the difficult issue of reforming our mental health system, to say nothing of banning guns just because of the way they look and calling it progress, is purely grandstanding. Read more at www.facebook.com/pages/Sons-and-Daughters-of-Lewisboro/155303351171425?ref=hl

  • Dagny Taggart

    With only a handful of police officers in and around town, the “majority” will become the proponent of a “minority” next door. Now that Law Abiding handgun owners have been outed, you better pray you live next to a Hunter if you weren’t one of the demonized on the LoHud list. The criminals now think they know who to scope out when someone isn’t home (to get their legally registered handgun) or they know who to rob when someone not on the list IS home… The criminals better choose wisely and you “majority” better pray your next door neighbor is a Hunter with a rifle or a shotgun because they’re not on the LoHud list (yet). Cuomo is trying; then you “majority” may understand that one day, when things go awry, you better have been nice to your neighbors if the criminals know you’re home and you have no defense against them but to cower and dial 911. Best of luck to you in that event and the lesson for you Mr. Majority: be nice to your neighbors – they may be your only real “neighborhood watch”.

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