Jeff Timmer: Lawyer, guns, money and recalls ⋆ Michigan Advance
Michigan GOP lawmakers undeterred by recall threats over election bills – Detroit News
State board deadlocks on Unlock Michigan petition ⋆ Michigan Advance
State elections panel deadlocks on Unlock Michigan petition – Free Press
Michigan’s political geography is shifting. These interactive maps show how. | Bridge Michigan
Books by David Daley
Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy
Unrigged: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy
Amazon.com: David Daley: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle
Articles by David Daley
Courts Are Taking Away One of Americans’ Best Options for Fixing Voting – The Atlantic
Democracy was on the ballot in 2018 — and democracy won big – FairVote
Voting shouldn’t cause dysfunction — but Americans can change the system – FairVote
SCOTUS oral arguments suggest justices’ uncertainty on partisan gerrymandering remedy – FairVote
David Daley | 1A (National Public Radio interview)
Jeff Timmer 0:12
Welcome back to “A Republic, If You Can Keep It.” In a few minutes, we’ll be joined by one of the nation’s top experts on gerrymandering. David Daley, author of “Ratfucked: Why Your vote Doesn’t Count” and “Unrigged: How Americans Are Fighting Back to Save Democracy.” But first Mark, let’s do some introspection. Both of us were in the news this week. And we owe it to our listeners to provide the inside story on our own stories.
Mark Brewer 1:10
That’s right, Jeff. So I want to start by talking about recalls and your recall project. I don’t know if our listeners know. But Jeff was one of the co-authors of the changes in the recall laws back in 2012, which made it much more difficult to recall legislators and others in this state. That was a reaction to a successful Democratic recall of a Republican state representative of Genesee County. But that’s the backstory that it’s now frankly much more difficult to recall people in this state but you announced this week that you’re willing and going ahead with recalls of Republican legislators who vote for these voter suppression bills. Tell us tell us about it.
Jeff Timmer 1:51
Well, I’ve taken very seriously the the threat of Trump and Trumpism and the danger in the damage the assault on our democracy and our democratic institutions. We saw it in you know, glowing technicolor between the November election and the certification and the the electoral college meeting in December. The events leading up to and including January 6, and then the the period until Joe Biden was sworn in as president. There was this concerted, deliberate lying, propaganda assault on the very foundations of democracy in a deliberate attempt to overthrow overturn, nullify our votes. Across the country, especially in states like Michigan, we had several legislators, more than half of those currently serving in the Michigan Senate, those Republicans signed a letter urging Congress to throw out our votes. Now in several states, including Michigan, they’re looking to change voting laws to give themselves latitude and future elections that they feel they lacked to overturn the last election. It’s effectively weaponizing the the vote counting process to whoever controls the state capitol, will now control and determine who wins the election, regardless of how many votes a candidate gets. And that’s a danger not only with the Republicans who I’ve been doing battle with over the last few years, but it’s a danger in the hands of any party. No one should have that power. And so I have said: look, if you’re going to go this route, and especially if you’re going to go the route of a petition drive, that presents the legislature with sufficient number of signatures, which is a very low number 340,000 signatures out of 10 million people in Michigan, that the legislature on a straight party line vote can then end around the governor and circumvent … maybe abide by the black letter of the law, but certainly circumvent the intent of the law in the spirit of democracy. If you’re going to go that route. That’s a nuclear option that you’re exercising. And so I’m prepared to exercise a nuclear option of my own go straight to DEFCON one and build a coalition, deploy the resources to force these people to a recall special election this November, or next May (which then law from 2012 specifies is the only allowable dates). We will force these people to recall ballots that they might think they can win, they might win some of them. My would think they’re not going to win all of them. will create havoc and uncertainty in Michigan politics for the next year. It’s not a choice that I’ve made, but it’s a an extent that I’m willing to go.
Mark Brewer 4:52
I agree with you, Jeff. You know, Michigan’s got a history of bipartisan nonpartisan election administration. You know, we’ve had some very contentious elections. But overall, our bipartisan county boards, our bipartisan State Board of canvassers, that you once served on, have worked, and we’ve had a lot of great nonpartisan staff, particularly the state level, who’ve been administering our elections. And that system has worked. It’s been contentious, but neither party should be able to manipulate election results, block certification, in order to have their way. So I gotta tell you, I saw your tweet last Friday. And then monitoring it, and I see 2-million Likes, I had to do a doubletake when I saw 2-million Likes, in a matter of a few days to that tweet. So what’s going on? What’s been the reaction to your recall announcement?
Jeff Timmer 5:46
Well, maybe a fit of pique on a Friday afternoon! I’m very serious about the the recalls. But the the outpouring that I’ve received since has been just tremendous. And beyond anything I’ve could have, have imagined. All across Michigan thousands upon thousands of people have replied to me on social media, or hit my DMs on social media or sent me emails, or texts. Apparently, it’s not that hard for strangers to find me, which is a little scary. But I have gotten of requests for how can I help? How can I circulate petitions? Where can I give money? I mean, I’ve got thousands and thousands, of people asking him to give money. And I wish I had the website to direct people to right now. But maybe by Wednesday, we can insert that into this into this edited conversation. So the outpouring has has been tremendous. And people this is not just a Michigan battle. This is a battle for the soul of the Republic, the the idea of America is, as a great as it is, and as imperfect as it has been. People want to defend it. And they saw what happened in Georgia, with the legislature changing the laws in a way that makes it more difficult for people to vote. They see it happening in other states. They see it happening in Michigan, and what’s happened, what what Michigan’s system allows, through these recalls, and other measure measures is a different points where people can get involved in stop this from happening. All it takes right now with the two vacancies in the State Senate. All it takes right now is for two Republicans to say, wait a minute, this isn’t a good idea. And they don’t have the votes to pass it. Two people who are willing to not necessarily go against their party, but just say, wait a minute, maybe, maybe these, you know now 50 CEOs of the leading companies in the state who say this isn’t a good idea, the thousands and thousands — millions, quite honestly of voters in Michigan who oppose this. Maybe we should step back and figure out if there are smart things to do in our election laws that we can agree to in a bipartisan fashion, by all means, let’s do them. But if something is going to be this contentious in, in this divisive climate that we live in right now, this political cultural divide, if we’re just going to be pouring gas on the fire, it feels like a wrong thing to do. So maybe it is the wrong thing to do. All it takes is two people to pause and we have an impasse. It just takes three Republicans of good conscience and good character in the state House to pause. Are there five good Republicans or even Republicans who aren’t bad in Lansing? I believe so. I hope so. I know these people, I know that I know many of them to be good people, good people can can choose wrong paths. I hope some of them choose not to walk down this one.
Mark Brewer 9:01
So I can ask though, it sounds like this is not an empty threat by you. You’re organizing, sounds like you’re setting up a website to receive contributions. I mean, you’re ready to carry this through. This is not just some verbal,
Jeff Timmer 9:13
no, no, this is this is this is going to happen. We have a super PAC, we have you know, there will be a website, there will be the ability for people all across the country to donate in any any amount. They can give us $1 or they can give us $1 million. And we are prepared. We know we’re going to have the resources there will be resources to force any Republican who votes for this. Who doesn’t denounce this, who doesn’t put the brakes on this? We will be able to force all 20 in the Senate and all 55 in the house if necessary, to special elections and that sounds maybe hyperbolic maybe some don’t believe it. But they’re gonna start seeing recall petitions in their districts this summer, then, you know, believe it, then
Mark Brewer 10:09
I look forward to Jeff to helping you make that happen. I hope it’s not necessary. But I look forward to to helping you. And that important task if we have to.
Jeff Timmer 10:18
Well, also in the news this week is, Mark, you are leading the battle to stop a petition drive aimed at circumventing both governor Whitmer and the voters and jamming through a bill permanently crippling any future Governor’s ability to quickly respond in an emergency. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that
Mark Brewer 10:37
Folks know about this law that the Governor I think has very successfully used to get us through the pandemic, it gives her emergency powers. It’s a law that dates to 1945, passed by a Republican legislature signed by a Republican governor used by Democratic and Republican governors ever since. And it’s been really key to Governor Whitmer getting us through the pandemic. But as you pointed out a moment ago, there is a unique — only one other state has — an almost unique mechanism in the Michigan constitution, where a few-hundred-thousand signatures on petitions can give the legislature the ability to make a change in the law and bypass the governor. In this case, there was a petition drive started last spring called Unlock Michigan, which gathered signatures and they’re trying to follow that path to bypass the governor and repeal this law, which I think we’re going to need again. I mean, pandemics are not going away, they’re going to be more pandemics and other emergencies like them. But I’m one of the lawyers for the opposition group Keep Michigan Safe. And we discovered a lot of criminal wrongdoing in the course of the petition drive. So when they filed their signatures, they filed in October, we just recently, were able to do the actual challenge. You know, we went through this signatures, we found a lot of defective signatures. The form of the petition itself, is quite defective. And you know that from your work on the board of canvassers how important the form is. We also raise the issue that this board of canvassers really has no rules. They’ve got a lot of practices that they’ve used over the years to review and approve petitions. They’re supposed to make rules by state law. And they’ve never done that. So we went to the board of canvassers last week and said, Look, you need rules, you need to do an investigation. This petition is defective. And you should not let this small minority of people repeal this very, very important law. We end up with a deadlock in front of board of canvassers, which means that the petition was not approved. And I expect that, you know, within days, Unlock Michigan will be bringing a lawsuit probably in the Michigan Supreme Court to resolve this. And we will be there making all of our arguments in defense of this law. I mean, look, I believe in the initiative process, like anybody else, but you’ve got to follow the rules. You’ve got to collect signatures legally, you’ve got to have a petition that meets all the form requirements. You can’t have criminal conduct, and expect to get away with that, etc. And so those are very legitimate issues that we have raised on behalf of Keep Michigan Safe in order to try to derail this very dangerous petition drive.
Jeff Timmer 13:34
Well, it sounds like you’re doing excellent work here. And the having sat in the seats of those trying to pass and get petitions through the board of canvassers, and sat as a member of that board, trying to determine this, I agree that there there are certain aspects of that job as a canvasser in which your hands are tied. And there are certain aspects that have never been ventured, where that certainly are an unexplored territory or gray area. And if if you can just do anything and submit these these petitions with defects, with criminality, then what’s the point of having this process? What’s the point of having this board? If there is no ability to to ask questions to intervene to halt to challenge to question, then, then, you know, it should just become a perfunctory machine process and take humans out of it. And clearly, that wasn’t the intent of the Constitutional Convention, whether it was the 1963 or ’08 or before then or wherever they created this, I don’t know what to take all human discretion out of a process. Makes makes no process then if you’re going to involve those humans.
Mark Brewer 14:58
Yeah, this process has been thoroughly corrupted by dark money by criminal conduct and everything else. And there’s gonna be more coming out in the coming days that we’ve uncovered about this petition drive. And so we’re going to be talking about it a lot. You know, we can talk for hours about campaign finance reform. But when people see the amount of dark money, undisclosed money, secret money that was used to fund this petition, right, this was no grassroots rebellion against the governor’s powers. This was an orchestrated power play by Senator Mike Shirkey, and others using dark money to try to corrupt the process here. And we are doing our best to put a stop to it.
Jeff Timmer 15:38
Well, I know I personally know and have been friends with many of these actors who are involved in this or potentially involved in this and I, I know many to be good people. I also know that in politics or in other aspects of life, good people can can choose to do wrong things. And it sounds like people may have chosen or whether purposefully or inadvertently gone down a path they should not have gone down. And I am very curious to see how this plays out. And I hope you hope you’re successful in this because I do think these these these powers are, are essential to to effective government. I know John Engler, you know, wouldn’t have rolled over and let the legislature you know, take away his you know, his very real-and-necessary powers. And I’m glad to see that the G overnor Whitmer and others are defending that for the office, not for the office holder.
Mark Brewer 16:41
That’s right. It’s a real important check and balance that we have here. Again, I believe in the citizen initiative process, but it’s got to be done by the rules, and it can’t be done in a corrupt illegal fashion, which is exactly what we got here. And that’s what the ongoing fight is gonna be about.
Jeff Timmer 16:55
We’re gonna take a break and when we come back, we’ll be joined by author David Daley.
The US Census Bureau released the first of its 2020 reports in the last few days and as expected Michigan is one of seven states losing a seat in the US House of Representatives. The population shifts and reallocation of house seats will launch the every 10 years battle over drawing congressional maps and legislative maps and state capitals. Joining us today is an expert in the political gamesmanship of redistricting.
Mark Brewer 18:43
David Daley is a senior fellow for FairVote and the author of “RatFucked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy” which helped spark the recent drives reform partisan gerrymandering. Dave’s second book: “Unrigged: How Americans are Battling Back to Save Democracy” chronicles the victories and defeats in state efforts to reform elections and uphold voting rights.
Jeff Timmer 19:07
Daley is a frequent lecturer and media source about gerrymandering. He is the former editor in chief of salon.com and the former CEO and publisher of the Connecticut news project. He is a digital media fellow at the Wilson Center for the humanities and the Grady School of journalism at the University of Georgia. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Guardian, New York Magazine, the Atlantic Boston Globe Rolling Stone. And he’s been on CNN, NPR and many other networks. When writing for The Hartford Courant he helped identify Mark Felt as the Deep Throat source for Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.
Mark Brewer 19:42
Welcome, David, and thanks for joining the conversation this week.
David Daley 19:45
Thanks for having me. Good to be with you both.
Jeff Timmer 19:48
I think it’s great to see David Daley here. My co host, Mark Brewer and David Daley are the only two people that I can think of who’ve gotten me to open up and talk about some of the secrets behind redistricting, you know, pull my skirts up as it were. David was able to do it with a cup of coffee. It took Mark a subpoena, to make me talk but ironically, happened at the same place. David, in his book “Ratfucked” about redistricting talks about having coffee with me at Bigby, those in Michigan will know the senate Bigby, there’s a distinction, sitting at a table in front of the window, and that that table is the same one where Mark served me the subpoena to appear in the federal gerrymandering trial. I remember that very well
Mark Brewer 20:32
There ought to be a plaque there.
Jeff Timmer 20:33
That’d be great.
Mark Brewer 20:34
Yeah, we should point out we should put a bronze marker on that sidewalk.
Jeff Timmer 20:44
Anyway, David, welcome. You know, you’ve been looking at redistricting all around the country for a long time and wrote a very eye opening book about the process 10 years ago. And we had news this week, the official reapportionment numbers have come out with the states being allocated their, their population and seats through whatever kind of mystical formula Congress uses to determine or the Census Bureau uses to determine that. And so now we know where the seats are going to shift and to most of our listeners who are Michigan based in Michigan, and yet another decade is losing a seat. But I’m curious how you see … 10 years ago, there was a very concerted effort that you wrote about in your book by the Republicans to capture state legislatures in 2010, and use that to catapult themselves into a decade of majority in 2011 in redistricting. Is there anything similar or parallel going on right now? Or are both sides doing it based on what happened 10 years ago?
David Daley 21:48
You know, I don’t think that there necessarily needed to be one this time, because the republican efforts in 2011 really lasted the entire decade, when you look at the chambers that Republicans targeted in 2010. And quite effectively, I mean, Republicans had a big year, it’s the Tea Party year, it was the first midterm of a democratic president. So it historically tends to be a big year for the party that’s out of power. But Republicans had a really big strategic idea to try to capture as many of these swing state legislatures as they could, but also the states that were going to be gaining or losing a seat, because it’s in those states that you have to tear up the entire map and start all over again, and it gives you, you know, a terrific opportunity to go wild on the map. And I don’t think … certainly Democrats tried very hard to fight back in 2018 and in 2020, to try to win back seats at the table for this upcoming cycle. They really weren’t able to be successful anywhere. Not in Pennsylvania, not in Wisconsin, not in Michigan, not in Ohio, not in Florida. And, as a result of that, in the states where Republicans have been able to hold on to the governorship, they will continue to have complete control of the process. Michigan, of course, went ahead and adopted an independent commission in 2018. So the fact that the so the fact that that the legislators are able to hold on so long under these maps will not affect the process moving forward. But in all these other states, Republicans really are still going to be in the catbird seat. And it’s largely going to be thanks to the efforts in 2011.
Mark Brewer 24:00
David, let me take another angle on this. You know, many of us were disappointed by the US Supreme Court’s decision in the Rucho case right where the court finally said after 30 years of dallying in this whole area that there’s no federal cause of action for partisan gerrymandering. They tossed out our verdict here in Michigan and in several states across the country. While we’ve seen Supreme Courts, state Supreme Courts step in — Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which I think is still controlled by Democrats, you know, threw out their map, I think the North Carolina Supreme Court is still controlled by Democrats. So it may be that there’s a new player here, at least in some of these states, right, those two in particular, that might, you know, help kind of level the playing field. Any thoughts on the roles of the state Supreme Courts might play going forward?
I think that’s right. I mean, I was as disappointed as you were at the US Supreme Court. It closed the doors, essentially to the partisan gerrymandering claims on what I thought was a particularly specious legal reasoning. And it is going to have a handful of ramifications on this next decade. First, it removes any threat of federal litigation that might have reigned in some mapmakers and some legislatures and encourage them to stay out of litigation and come up with something that at least colored between the lines. Without that, I think Paul Smith, when he argued the case of the court is right, it’s going to be a real unfettered festival of partisan gerrymandering as a result. Certainly it opens the door to potential litigation in state courts. And the trouble there is, instead of a one size fits all standard that can be adopted throughout the entire country, you’ve got to file 50 different cases in 50 different states. And all of those, all of those states are under, you know, have a different ways of electing judges and some of those states are the courts are deeply partisan, and you’re you’re not likely to, to get, you know, a real remedy. So, you know, certainly in Florida, for example, you know, that’s a deeply gerrymandered state. I wrote about it in “Ratfucked” in which you had, you had citizens who enacted a constitutional amendment there in 2010 that, you know, banned all kinds of partisan gerrymandering, and it didn’t make a difference, they just set up a secret shadow process and essentially ran right around it. And because of the way that the justices are appointed there, it’s hard to imagine that that court is going to overturn whatever map comes out in in, you know, the bottom line, I think, is that you want to have just as unfettered access to a fair map, if you live in Florida, or if you live in, you know, Pennsylvania, or North Carolina. It shouldn’t depend on where you live. And that the real sadness to me of what the court did in the Rucho case, is that they slammed these federal courthouse doors at exactly the time that federal courts and state courts around the country, including in your case in Michigan, of course, but also in Ohio, and Wisconsin and Maryland, in North Carolina, we’re showing that there was very much a way to determine when a map had gone too far. And that there were statistical measures that could, you know, demonstrate it, and that a court could hear evidence the same way that a Court hears evidence in any other trial.
Yeah, I think the point you made about Florida will also be true in Texas. Yeah, the Texas Supreme Court is not going to be a place where folks can go. Do you have any sense, David about whether the Justice Department, you know, under Merrick Garland now can have any impact on this at all, particularly with the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, section five, you know, several years ago. Section two? or are they going to run into a hostile federal judiciary as well.
Unknown Speaker 28:50
Section two is under threat at the Roberts court right now as well. You certainly have in the Garland Justice Department, a team of experienced voting right litigators in folks like Kristen Clark. Now you have a new office of democracy at the White House that Justin Levitt is running. So there are some really bright and experienced, quite capable people who will be working on this. The question, I think, again, is is whether anything can be crafted at the federal level that can find their way through a blockade at a US Supreme Court that has over the course of the last decade become increasingly unfriendly to the idea of protecting voting rights of the average citizen.
Jeff Timmer 29:52
You know, I’ve 10 years ago from the perspective of many and I’m sure many of our listeners I was one wearing a black hat. I’ve switched hats in a lot of ways over the last over the last decade, notably very vocally taking on my, my former tribe and holding them accountable for it. Not that I’ve gone against what I believed in, but I think they have. And I think I look and I see the way that they’ve bastardized the process. And I’ve looked back at 2011. And I’ve looked a lot at the rise of extremism, the polarization of politics, and I have done some mea culpa interviews where I recognize the the preponderance of safe districts being on either side of the spectrum where you are answerable in a primary election, really only answerable in a primary election and not in a November election. It gives rise to this extremism, where instead of kind of the normal American politics where everything is between the 35 or 40 yard lines, both sides are now kind of playing more toward their own end zones, and backfields. And we’re getting these just downright kooks, be they in Congress or in the state capitol, and yet, I looked at people here in Michigan, and I’m sure the name, you know, Matt Maddock` means nothing to you. But to listeners here in Michigan. I mean, this guy is a drooling kook, who is one of the most powerful Republicans in the state right now. And it’s people like that, that that this process has given rise to and given power to, and it’s been corrosive, it’s been toxic. And I recognize that needs to change, and I’m doing what I can to change it.
David Daley 31:38
I’m really grateful to hear you say that, and I’ve, you know, so admired, you know, following you on Twitter and reading some of these interviews and pieces you’ve done. Because I don’t think everybody has completely recognized the role of redistricting and gerrymandering in creating this kind of toxicity and polarization that has come to really take over our politics. I mean, I think we, in many ways live in the nation, that red map, the redistricting majority project, the GOP strategy, back from 2010 created and it had unintentional consequences of putting into power. Extreme lawmakers who suddenly had no accountability to really anybody at all, because they were representing districts they could not lose. The only election that mattered is a low turnout summer primary from the, you know, hardcore of the base, November, it doesn’t matter at all. And what that does, you know, I think it does a lot of things. First, it gives you people like Mark Meadows, you know, I mean, when you look at North Carolina, and this is one of my favorite examples in the country of, of what happened. When republicans redrew North Carolina’s congressional map in 2011, they were determined and the state representative who talked about it at the time and who around the process, and I’m going to do a 10 three map because I think a temporary map is the best thing for Republicans and the best thing for for North Carolina. And in order to draw on three map, they had to take a competitive district in the western part of the state around Asheville. And they had to essentially take Asheville and which is the vegan hippie capital of the Western mountains, but it’s surrounded by all of the conservative towns where Eric Rudolph hit out and was protected all those years. So it’s an interesting place. And it was a real swing district in the preceding decade in 2000. Oh 204. It is a republican seat and in 2006, when there’s dissatisfaction with the Iraq War, you get a conservative democrat elected from that seat, an old football quarterback that
Jeff Timmer 34:22
that was Keith Schuler’s district. Okay.
David Daley 34:24
Schuler’s district Yeah. And when they redraw the map in 2011, Schuler takes one look at the crack to Asheville and half and half the democrats and in that seat and half and Patrick McHenry, see and he says, I can’t win here and he retires takes on a you know, much more lucrative careers and energy lobbyist. And Mark Meadows is a sandwich shop owner in a small town, and he says, I know what I’m going to do here. I’m going to get in this race. I’m going to run as a birther. You can go on and you can find the video of him talking about I’m going to send Morocco Bhama back to Kenya wherever it is he comes from he wins the primary there, the back 40% of the vote in that district and he coasts into Congress as a result that john bainer doesn’t like Mark Meadows any more than Barack Obama. And the feeling is mutual, right? I mean, it’s meadows, who pulls the parliamentary move that ends up costing bainer his speakership. And it’s bainer, who’s one of the key funders and organizers behind red map and the gerrymandering in Ohio. So like this is the the the blowback Is that like a Frankenstein’s monster is created with these guys and these districts, and it launched something that most of the people who created it, have still not grappled with. I mean, bainer and Paul Ryan, all of these guys are still deeply involved with Republican redistricting efforts this year. I mean, bainer is out selling a book and you know, talking about all of the awfulness, but he’s still not grappling with what was unleashed by him as a result of this. And I think until more republicans more honest conservatives understand that a lot of the extremism and the toxicity and a lot of what created Trump was self inflicted.
Jeff Timmer 36:31
I agree completely. I think the the Tea Party was kind of a catalyzing moment to the 2010. That put the party on a path to extremism. Trump was just gas on a fire that was already burning, kind of like that third stage rocket booster to send it into orbit. And you look at these people, like, you know, a meadows, I would never call him smart, but he was clever enough to pull it. You have people than like the Jim Jordan’s in the Matt gates, who are his performing monkeys, you know, that he was able to go out and do his dirty work to really get out in front of the cameras and say the dumb things that he was having them say, but these people rose to the point where they are the mainstream of the Republican Party. They’re still the painters in the Paul Ryan’s of the world. Still think that this is a an anomaly that things are going to revert back to normal Trump is now gone. They don’t realize they’re now the extreme the fringe of the party. And it’s the Jim Jordan’s in the Matt Gates is in the Marjorie Taylor Greensward, the mainstream reflect the views of the predominance of Republicans in this country. And it’s crazy. It’s it’s, it’s scary.
Mark Brewer 37:52
That’s what it is. Yeah, I think, you know, in our trial, one of the experts that we had demonstrated the link between gerrymandering and policymaking, which is another way to come out, which you guys have just been talking about. He showed it, it was Chris Warshaw, he showed it in Pennsylvania, he showed how it happened in Michigan, that there’s a direct link between this now, when the democrats took control the legislature back in the 60s, after the one person one vote, revolution, you can see the same thing. You know, we had from our perspective, you know, there’s huge outflowing of progressive legislation, right workers rights, environmental rights, civil rights, a whole kind of thing. But now the counter revolution is occurring. led not by the kind of folks, you engage Jeff, but for folks here in Michigan courser and Garrett. Yeah, right, or scandalous pair who actually are so bad a few years ago, they got ousted by the Republican caucus, I’m not sure they would be ousted today. Now they’re much,
Jeff Timmer 38:52
much worse. One of them would be leading that caucus if they were still in the legislature. And you know, it’s given rise to this. I found a new term that I’ve kind of taken a shine to on Twitter this week, I call them the witless Ayatollah is that on the theory, the theocratic hierarchy of the republican party and they’re, they’re, they will effectively engage in political stoning of anybody who demonstrates heresy or, you know, becomes an apostate in their mind. It’s, it’s kind of, I guess, another like, synchronicity this week is the fourth season of Handmaid’s Tale, debuts tomorrow. And if you know these guys, these guys would be comfortable at the helm of Gilead. And they’re not they’re illiberal, they’re dangerous I many of them are authoritarian. I’ve said in a recent column that this this lurch toward the liberalism, I still think most people in the party are not willing to knowingly engage in full throated authoritarianism, but they don’t recommend Notice that they’re adjacent to it and enabling it. Because there are people with with much worse motive, who are engaged in in active subversion of democracy, active subversion of our votes. We saw it after the election, we’re seeing it with bills moving through state legislatures right now. We’ve talked about it earlier on this podcast, it’s it’s, you know, it’s what’s caused me to get out in take a lead. And in preparing to recall, Republicans in the legislature, you know, 10 years ago, if I had a time machine, I wouldn’t believe my future. So. But that’s where I’m at. And, and so, I know, there’s a lot of people listening to this, who can’t believe what I’m doing either.
Mark Brewer 40:47
What we have is this epidemic of minority rule that is so deeply dangerous and anathema to what the idea of a representative democracy is supposed to be if the politicians get too far out of step with the people. We have this vehicle called elections that’s supposed to allow us to control them and rein them back in. And our elections have stopped being responsive. And a large part of that is the maps. And when politicians no longer have to fear losing an election, they can do all sorts of things, right? They can be as corrupt as they want to be knowing that their own caucus might not rein them in, you just have to look at neighboring Ohio, which seems to have, you know, the, the former Speaker of the House, they’re the congressmen, I’m sorry, the the the state rep from North Carolina, who I talked about, at the beginning, who was in charge of drawing those maps, David Lewis, had to resign in a financial campaign contribution scandal of his own, you know, so you see, on the policy side, a politician politicians feel perfectly able and willing to go to extremes, and there’s nothing that voters can do about it. And that is what has to be changed. And it has to be changed before all of these gerrymandered and insulated legislators continue to pass these horrific voting rights bills that are really designed to lock themselves in power. I wish we could stop talking about this in many ways through Republican and Democratic angles. I think it’s, you know, this isn’t about which party wins. It’s about being able to go to the polls and have responsive elections in which our voices are heard, and our voices matter. And that’s what is slipping away from us in a really dangerous way. And I don’t think that’s hyperbole.
Well, David, what what can we were farmers? Do? I mean, are the answers I gotta tell you in Michigan here, you know, we have these very difficult recall laws very hard. But we have some of the worst lobbying and ethics laws in the country. So it’s hard to even know what’s going on behind the scenes in terms of the corruption. And now the gerrymandered districts now maybe our commission will help us get a little bit out of that. But that’s just Michigan. I mean, what is going to happen in the other states like Indiana, where they can’t do a ballot proposal? Right, but they have a terribly gerrymandered process? And my friends in Indiana, tell me they’re going to the republicans are going to do it again, they’re going to gerrymander the state. So I’m just trying to figure out, is there anything we can do in terms of state by state or kind of breaking through this and fixing? I don’t mean to put that all on you. But any ideas based on all the research? You’ve done all the thinking you’ve done on that? No.
I have come to think that the best way forward on this is to rethink the idea of single member districts altogether. There’s a congressman from Virginia, Don Byers got something called the fair representation Act, which combines larger multi member districts that are harder to gerrymander and rank choice voting that would re incentivize politicians to talk to everybody again and not just their base and would make it possible for them to go to Washington and actually govern and form Coalition’s together and solve problems rather than being afraid that you know, talking to the wrong person or shaking the wrong politicians hand on this tarmac would lead to a primary challenge. I think we have to really think, big here because the structural problems are are worsening. As polarization deepens, as you know, as our geographical polarization worsens, this isn’t going to solve itself. And in many ways, I think we have to fix this idea of single member winner takes all before we can get at just about anything else. And I’m talking to you from Massachusetts. Massachusetts has nine members, and they’re all Democrats. They haven’t elected a republican here since 1994. to Congress, but there are plenty of Republicans in the state of Massachusetts, we always elect Republican governors, right.
We’ve had almost
we’ve had one democratic governor here since the days of Michael Dukakis
Jeff Timmer 46:08
was on our show, he was a guest of ours, too.
Mark Brewer 46:09
Well, that’s amazing. He’s fantastic. If you email Michael to caucus, he will email you back.
Unknown Speaker 46:16
I found that out.
Mark Brewer 46:20
And, you know, so if you, you really, even if you’ve had an independent commission here in Massachusetts, you would struggle to draw a republican seat, simply because of the way people are divided up. But if you drew three districts of three, and you use rank choice voting, so all it took was a 33% plus one to two, I get a seat, suddenly, you would have a much more proportional balance to the delegation, Massachusetts Republicans would actually have a voice again, and how great would it be to have New England, Republicans in Congress again, or some, you know, Midwestern Southern Democrats? Those are the people who kind of grease the wheels and make the legislation move, or they’re the oil. So I think that’s really the solution we ought to be
Jeff Timmer 47:18
if you look at, when you say New England, Republicans, my mind immediately jumps to Susan Collins and I don’t think of oil that makes the publican by geography only.
Mark Brewer 47:32
Good idea, proportional representation and subtraction. I have friends who are, you know, active in governments in Europe, and Southern Asia? And I look at those proportional voting systems, you know, they use party lists, that’s one mechanism, the way you described as another. I think, if you’re gonna adopt that, though, uniformly across the country, right, because I can see that becoming a partisan tool, right, that it’s adaptive in a way that strengthens one party or the other. But yes,
so Massachusetts is not going to agree to it. Because you would lose three seats right away. You’d have to do this via statute, and it would require repealing the the single district mandate that the Congress passed back in the 1960s. But, you know, I think it’s more than a thought experiment. Now. I mean, I think people realize in a lot of ways that conditions can be great. And I think in a state, like Michigan, it will give you a fairer map than the ones you’ve you probably have there lately.
Jeff Timmer 48:43
I agree after 10 years, I agree.
Mark Brewer 48:46
But what are you gonna do in Massachusetts? What are you gonna do in in Kansas? I mean, we have a gerrymandering problem. And we have a geography problem. And it’s often It’s often said that too often we blame geography for states like Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin or Michigan or Ohio, you know, and, and folks say, Well, you know, it’s just that all the democrats are, are, are concentrated in, in, in Pittsburgh and, and Philadelphia, and the rest of the state is Republican. We know from the kind of mathematical models that have been done over the course of the last decade, testing this, that that’s not the case, that there’s there’s a pretty good a distribution of red and blue across all of these states that are competitive. What happened in those states is that they were gerrymandered to, to hell and beyond. But in states like Oklahoma, in states like Utah, in in Massachusetts and Connecticut, in K those states have a geography problem. And if we’re going to fairly represent everyone, we have to find a way to to get around single member districts.
Jeff Timmer 50:13
We’re getting the gong from our producer, we’ve already chewed up 30 minutes. And so this is a kind of conversation that I could go on with for a long time. And I hope is this is this process goes on over the next year is the commission plays out here in Michigan, as the process goes on in other states that we can have you come back and talk about what we’re seeing, I think we recognize some of the danger signs, we know some of the pitfalls, let’s let’s regroup as we as we move through the year. And in talking about this and kind of do a play by play, because I think we’re gonna see a patchwork of some success stories, hopefully, Michigan will be one. But I think we’re gonna see some very egregious attempts to really skew the lines in places like Florida and Texas and Georgia, or in New York,
Mark Brewer 51:02
I was about to say, I was about to jump in there and and play the nonpartisan and say, what I think you’re going to see in New York in Illinois, are going to be really over the over the line attempts to. And then some Democrats might say, well, we have we have no choice to do this, because we have to make up for you know, Texas and Florida and North Carolina. But this is why we need a national systemic approach that puts real standards on this. This ought to be about voters. These district lines are the building blocks of our democracy and when they get worked, this is what we get. We get a government that’s incapable of protecting us during a pandemic. And we have a chance now to start over and fix it.
Jeff Timmer 51:58
That’s a great way to end this. David Daley, thank you so much for joining us. And thank you for those thoughts anytime at all. Thanks, guys.
Mark Brewer 52:04
Thank you, David.
Jeff Timmer 52:05
That’s our time for this week. Our great thanks to David Daley for joining the conversation.
Mark Brewer 52:10
We welcome your comments on the podcast. You can talk back to us by email, comments at a republic podcast calm or add your comments to our Facebook page.
Jeff Timmer 52:20
And if you would share the link to this podcast on your social media. We’ve already added listeners in 46 states and 28 countries and would love to see that expand even further. And
Mark Brewer 52:31
if the republic is still standing we’ll be back in a week. Thanks very much for listening.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai