Whenever one party doesn’t seem to get their way, there’s a handy word they can throw around to put the blame for it on the other guy. That word is “gerrymandering.”
Gerrymandering, in case you’re unfamiliar, is basically when you redistrict in such a way to maintain control on your party’s power in the legislature. It’s usually seen when you have some very, very odd-looking districts. It’s also universally decried…when the other side does it.
It’s also responsible for any failure you want to name. Hell, some even blamed Stacey Abrams’s loss in a statewide race to gerrymandering.
Now, a recent report blames gerrymandering for Virginia and similar states not jumping all over gun control sooner.
Most Virginians favor stricter gun laws, although recent efforts to advance gun safety legislation have languished in the state General Assembly.
That disconnect has likely been due in part to partisan gerrymandering, according to a report released Tuesday by the Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that advocates progressive policies.
The analysis looks at gerrymandering in five states, including Virginia, where Democrats had won the majority of statewide votes, but Republicans maintained control over the state legislatures. Conservative politicians in those states have “refused to allow a meaningful debate on any commonsense gun safety measures,” according to the report’s authors. The paper also examined Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and North Carolina.
“In each of these states, it is likely that, in the absence of partisan gerrymandering, the legislature would have enacted measures to strengthen gun laws — measures that could have saved lives,” the paper says.
CAP looked at gun safety legislation that has been stymied in Virginia in recent years, although the political landscape on the issue is set to shift dramatically in 2020. Democrats in November won control of the full state government for the first time since 1993, after making gun violence prevention a top agenda item.
Or, and here’s a wild thought, maybe gun control just wasn’t that important to Virginia voters.
I know, it’s crazy, but bear with me for a moment.
You see, while gerrymandering does happen, both sides do it. However, it also doesn’t stop Democrats from taking control of state legislatures like they did in Virginia. It also doesn’t stop Republicans from taking hold, either. What matters is whether or not the voters actually like what the candidates are selling.
If Democrats are having difficulty, then maybe the problem stems from their messaging and not gerrymandering?
After all, this isn’t exactly an unbiased report. By outright stating that gun control laws result in saved lives–a point that’s contentious and far from a proven–they’ve displayed their own anti-gun biases. As a result, they’re likely inclined to dig and look for anything in the world they can to justify gun control’s failures.
Yet gun control isn’t a new concept. If the voters actually wanted it badly enough, they’d vote for gun control candidates.
The truth is that voters in these states are generally not that interested in gun control. They side with Democrats on some issues and Republicans on others. Electing a Democrat doesn’t automatically mean the voters want gun control any more than everyone who votes for Republicans wants to end abortion.
The paper fails to account for this, though, because it doesn’t fit their narrative. And let’s be honest, that’s all that matters to CAP.