So what is gerrymandering?
Gerrymandering is where politicians go in and manipulate electoral boundaries in order to achieve a favorable result for a party.
What does this do?
This allows a party to artificially manipulate their constituents into promoting their party and entrenching their power in that district. Gerrymandering marginalizes minority voices within a community and robs the American people of their opportunity to express their diversity. It limits the power of voting and stifles the democratic process at all levels.
Gerrymandering is often used along racial and ethnic lines.
Why do parties do this?
Politicians serve their self-interests. Gerrymandering can give rise to career politicians at all political levels by squelching opposing sentiment. The process also limits the ability for voters to push issues that matter to the people and muzzles dissent from constituents by marginalizing their political influence. Politicians know that minority communities and their voting patterns are a threat and they seek to limit the opportunity for community and district driven change.
Here is an academic example of gerrymandering:
Here is a real world example of gerrymandering:
So how is this legal?
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 made it illegal for gerrymandering with the intent of removing voting discrimination based on race and ethnicity. The Supreme Court in two cases (Shaw v Reno & Miller v Johnson) has ruled that gerrymandering cannot be conducted using only racial data.
But some states as a matter of policy and as a bi-partisan practice gerrymander together. While other states simply allow the dominant party to wreak their self-interest on the voting public with impunity. While the Federal government can intervene it is hard given the current legal criteria to successfully show legal discrimination in the gerrymandering process.
Gerrymandering is not simply a left or right issue. It is a process that limits the diversity and the power of voting for the American people. By its very nature gerrymandering is anti-democratic and it is an example of an entrenched American practice that disenfranchises citizens from their right to vote.
The movement to end Gerrymandering is frequently championed by liberals since minorities frequently favor democrats over republicans. Bernie Sanders champions an end to gerrymandering and recently Lawerence Lessig has introduced the idea of running as a referendum candidate (a president who resigns after pushing reform as a one issue candidate) in order to address voting rights issues and gerrymandering.
Likely though an end to gerrymandering will need to come from the courts in a stern ruling. Appointing liberal justices is the best and most likely way to end this frequently discriminating practice.