‘It changes the way you see everything’: the shocking film about gerrymandering

In Slay the Dragon, the controversial practice of warping district lines in the US is laid bare along with the fight to stop it from happening in the future

Katie Fahey was not looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner in November 2016. The election had splintered her family some had supported Donald Trump, others backed Bernie Sanders, then Hillary Clinton and the only agreement seemed to be a deep frustration with the polarized and paralyzingly entrenched interests of the political status quo. So one morning before heading to work as a sustainability organizer for a grocery company, the then 26-year-old aimed for a point of common ground with a Facebook post, reanimated in an early scene of the documentary Slay the Dragon: Hey, I want to take on gerrymandering in Michigan. If you want to help, let me know 🙂

*****************************************************

Recommended For You

Social Media Marketing 2019-20 Success Kit PLR

Get this Up-to-date "Social Media Marketing 2019-20 Success Kit" with PLR Rights and start cashing in huge by selling it as your own.

QuickAffiliatePro Professional

Get this Brand New Software That INSTANTLY Creates 1-Click SEO-Optimized and Traffic Pulling Affiliate Sites Stacked With Fresh, Unique Content and HOT Videos To Boost Sales and Affiliate Commissions 24*7 on Complete Autopilot.

ITaggz

iTaggz brings you the best hashtags to use on Instagram to get more followers, likes, leads and sales

*****************************************************

By lunch, it was clear she had struck a nerve. The post was shared in private Facebook groups from both camps, and Michiganders from across the aisle seemed to agree that regardless of the president, the warped district lines in the state drawn up behind closed doors by legislators every 10 years had strangled Michigan politics. Lead-contaminated water continued to poison the city of Flint, while bizarrely shaped districts one stretched like a bat over swaths of Democratic voters in Detroit rendered campaigns meaningless. Fahey held an initial meeting of about 70 people, thinking they would organize to support an established group. But establishment was clearly the issue, and soon they were taking on the Michigan state constitution.

The journey from optimistically frustrated Facebook post to leader of the grassroots group Voters Not Politicians forms the backbone of Slay the Dragon, a new documentary from Frontline veterans Barak Goodman and Chris Durrance, premiering at the Tribeca film festival, that illuminates the deep, deliberate shadiness of Americas decennial districting process. District lines, and the politician-appointed groups who often draw them, may not seem on the surface like a threat to American democracy, but Slay the Dragon reveals them to be a suffocating web of big money and special interests the tendrils connecting the dots from the Flint water crisis to dismantled unions in Wisconsin, the match and the accelerant to hyperpartisanship.

Katie
Katie Fahey speaks at rally in still from Slay the Dragon. Photograph: Participant Media

Before Voters Not Politicians kicked off, gerrymandering was, for most Americans, an admittedly unsavory but generally accepted element of American politics. The practice of packing like-minded constituents into one district or cracking the population into an ineffectual minority over many has existed since at least 1812, when the Massachusetts governor, Elbridge Gerry, signed a bill partitioning Boston into a salamander-shaped district. But the rise of big data technology has given modern gerrymandering ruthless teeth. This is not Elbridge Gerrys gerrymandering, says David Daley, a figure in Slay the Dragon whose book Ratfucked: Why Your Vote Doesnt Count inspired the documentary. This is not even the kind of gerrymandering that was being done in 1990 or 2000 the computers are faster and more powerful, the information that the mapmakers have is just deadly precise. And they can go up and down the streets and pick the voters that they want and draw the districts with absolute certainty with how they will perform for a decade.

Half of Slay the Dragon puts images, news clips and first-person testimonials to Daleys extensive reporting on the coordinated, deeply financed effort by Republicans to gerrymander districts after sweeping midterm victories in 2010. Known as Redmap, the plan backed by such conservative big money stalwarts as the Koch brothers, the tobacco company Altria and Walmart used the most sophisticated data tools available to quietly sort voters into districts statistically guaranteed to draw a Republican majority in state legislatures. It was successful, Daley says in the film, and it was the biggest heist in modern American political history.

Voters dont naturally cluster in districts shaped like Donald Duck kicking Goofy (Pennsylvania seventh), or a winged bat (Michigan fourth), says Daley. They were being sorted into those districts by big technology and by a determined political strategy that has remade our politics and tipped it decidedly rightward. Without checks at the district level, states legislatures began to pass conservative measures increasingly at odds with its voter base, such at the anti-transgender bathroom bill in North Carolina, the repeated (and now successful) attempts at a six-week abortion ban in Ohio, and the dismantling of unions in labor-storied Wisconsin.

Goodman and Durrance had observed this pattern for years, but finding Daleys book finally helped them see the roots clearly. Honestly, there are few books you read in your life that really change you, and this was one for me, recalls Goodman. Daleys work was such an eye-opener, so clarifying that it made it impossible not to talk about it, Durrance says. Daleys work provides the film a basis of chastened outrage, a sort of annals of egregiousness. Slay the Dragon shows subpoenaed, unsuccessfully wiped hard drives from Wisconsins redistricting process, which moved to a private law firm across the street from pro-collective bargaining protests; the deleted maps guaranteed 60 Republican seats, every time. There are redistricting emails encouraging the closed-door committee in Michigan to cram Dem garbage into the south-eastern districts, and portraits of smug political analysts flown in to skew North Carolinas district lines.

*****************************************************

Recommended For You

Custom Offers

Custom Offers

Inboxr

Inboxr grows your following, makes sales, builds your email lists, responds to support questions, takes booking and removed the need for a social media manager for not only your Facebook Fan Pages, but Twitter profiles.

*****************************************************
Protestors
Protesters in a still from Slay the Dragon. Photograph: Participant Media

Daleys research before 2016 is effective, Durrance says, but we were also thinking that anything that we did would be coming out around now [April 2019], and that we had to be talking about the present. So the film-makers chose to center on three heavily gerrymandered, election-swinging states Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin and focus on activists challenging the ratfucked system in the courts, the streets or the state house. They found Nick Stephanopoulos and Ruth Greenwood, a husband-wife law team taking Wisconsins district map to the supreme court, and followed their journey from preparation to post-trial waiting game. And through a political science professor in Michigan, who knew of a group called Voters Not Politicians trying to end gerrymandering, led by Fahey. When the film-makers met Fahey, then in the early stages of managing what would become a 5,000-plus volunteer organization, they realized instantly that she was just this embodiment of how so many people were feeling, Durrance recalls.

The film follows Fahey as she canvasses neighborhoods, talks to local media, hastily takes notes on a Google Doc during a volunteers meeting, and ultimately takes Michigan Proposal 2, which establishes an independent, public citizens commission for redistricting, to the ballot box, where it passed last November.

Fahey credits the victory already hamstrung by the legislature but set to be implemented in 2021 to thousands of volunteers and even more people who saw a long corroded function of the system and thought, maybe it doesnt have to be this way.

This was only possible because thousands of people actively decided that instead of just getting lost in the comments section, they were going to do something It literally was a bunch of internet strangers learning to work together to do something to better our state.

Not getting lost, seeing the whole picture clearly thats the key, says Daley. You cant slay a dragon you cant see, and once you start seeing American politics through the lens of redistricting and gerrymandering, it changes the way you see everything.

Daley remembers lecturing on the intractability of gerrymandering before the midterms, how knotty it was, and yet Katie Fahey stood up and said: We can do this. He was surprised, but then citizens around the country stood up and took on the most entrenched structural problems in our democracy and won, which is amazing and inspiring and ought to give all of us reason to believe in democracy again.

Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

This post was curated & Posted using : RealSpecific

Thank you for taking the time to read our article.
**********************************************************

Interested in building a blog or auto-blog like this one ? Or just want to order one ?  Join our "Blogging Tips Tricks and Resources Skype" Group and let's chat about it. 

Join "Blogging Tips Tricks and Resources Skype" HERE

Interested in Starting your own Roku TV Channel ? Or interested in learning how to build one ? Join our "Roku TV Channel Development" Skype Group and let's chat about it. 

Join "Roku TV Channel Development" HERE

**********************************************************

If you enjoyed our content, we'd really appreciate some "love" with a share or two.

And ... Don't forget to have fun!

 
 

Recommended

Leave a Reply