The Widdershins

Archive for October 4th, 2013

Here’s hoping this is a great day on the cusp of a great weekend for all the Widdershin clan.

Every pundit with a pencil has opined as to the causes of this governmental go-to-pieces. Their reasons center around Onionmoney, gerrymandering, and the conservative media bubble. I don’t disagree. All have played a role, but those reasons just don’t peel away enough layers of the onion to savor the particularly unctuous and redolent parts. Today I’d like to take a stab at the onion by way of a prolixous peeling.

First, this whole shutdown mess was avoidable, but as with any great mess, there was some planning. Remember last year’s omnipresent Republican whine of, “The Senate Democrats won’t pass a budget.”

Well, early this year a budget was passed and since March, Sen. Patty Murray has tried eighteen (18) times to appoint budget conferees to work with the House. Mysteriously, an anonymous senatorial “block” was placed on the appointment of conferees. Who exactly placed the block is unknown, but it seems to be an open secret it was either Ted Cruz or his latter day sibling Mike Lee. In any event, without conferees a budget was impossible resulting in the need for continuing resolutions or CRs.

This presented the right atmospherics for the perfect shutstorm. The need to pass a CR prior to the end of the fiscal year was just two weeks prior to the debt ceiling cluster-fornication. Since Obama had folded like cheap origami in earlier negotiations, it was a perfect time for a CruzApalooza. This CruzApalooza and the Tea Party provided an answer to the age old question your parents always asked, “If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you follow?” The answer was yes.

The next layer of the onion is the letter written by Rep. Mark Meadows. He is from the reddest of the red districts in North Carolina. His letter, written in August and signed by eighty (80) other fringe representatives, demanded a government shutdown. The letter contorted itself to conclude “shutting down the government was their duty.”

As a prelude to peeling the onion to its most odoriferous parts, let’s look at these 80 districts. Conveniently, The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza did that for us. These 80 districts and their representatives look like this:

Seventy-nine of the eighty representatives are white. The eightieth is an Hispanic who opposes comprehensive immigration reform.

Seventy-six of the eighty are male.

The average U.S. congressional district is 63% white. These 80 districts are 75% white.

Prior to the census and redistricting, they were 73% white. So as the country actually got more racially diverse, these districts actually got whiter. An amazing feat of artful district drawing.

The average congressional district is 17% Latino. These districts are 9% Latino.

These districts have a consistently low level of educational attainment — four percent below the national average.

Here’s the big one: Obama bested Romney by about 5% nationally. In these districts, Romney beat Obama by an average margin of 23%.

Courtesy of gerrymandering, these representatives won their races by an average of 34%. Their only fear, someone more rabidly conservative.

These 80 districts are whiter, with fewer minorities, less educated, more rural, and most importantly, as robustly Republican as they can possibly be.

In short, these districts are just like the real world, only reversed. It is the embodiment of Seinfeld‘s “bizarro world” where everything and everyone was the same, only 180 degrees backward.

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