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Lisa Longo Headshot

Gerrymandering, ALEC and the Red Tide That Is Stealing Your Vote

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How many times a day do you catch yourself thinking, "What the hell is happening here?" We have gone from the "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave" to the land where we have secretive groups trying to push partisan political agendas or secret trade deals and convert them into legislation without public scrutiny, or even Congressional oversight. We have one party moving geographical party lines to basically rig elections and then attempting to shut down or seriously slow down actual voting lines. And we have proof they are doing this to shut down any chance of electoral fairness; read the quotes, watch the video, we've got Republican legislators, talking heads and paid pundits spouting how they can "win" elections by changing the rules, making sure the "right" people vote and basically explaining how they plan to "steal" your vote.

This most certainly is not what our founding fathers foresaw those many score and then some years ago.

And Democrats are by no means totally innocent in all this. We see them also playing games with redistricting, generally not quite as blatant as the opposition, but certainly they have done some gerrymandering as well. And after several hours of workshops on the TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership, I have to say, I cannot understand why our president would be supporting what was described as a "trojan horse" gift to corporations and a codification of the private corporation as having the same "rights" as a sovereign nation-state. I mean seriously, what the hell is that about?

And we aren't blameless in any of this. While we've been busy raising our kids, supporting the arts and posting about our angst, the right wing has been taking over state houses, moving district lines to ensure they control the legislatures, and thinking up new ways to force their dogma into our day to day lives.

And here is the thing, they are no longer even bothering to be subtle about it. Ted Cruz, with a little help from his friends at ALEC, that shadowy corporate shroud that pushed "Stand Your Ground" and limits on voting rights, has published a plan to circumvent our government and usurp our elected officials. As one person said to me recently, "Ted Cruz is proof you don't have to be sane to be in the Senate." Mr. Cruz wants to increase state rights as a way of overruling our federal government and he is doing it by proposing a series of "compacts" under the guise of what he calls the "Shield of Federalism." And naturally they want to overturn everything from the ACA to funding public education. This isn't just an effort to draft more business-friendly legislation, this is an all-out assault on our individual freedoms, national interest and separation of corporate interests and individual rights.

And it really is all connected. The TPP, ALEC, gerrymandering -- they are the reason we can't pass basic legislation that has both popular and bipartisan support. A few fanatics have been able to take control of the House, and they are going to hold up anything sensible as they plot and pander to keep the power they had to cheat to win. Gerrymandering and ALEC are the reason the Republicans are defunding our public schools and defending private rules like "Stand Your Ground." Here in Pennsylvania, they drew voting districts that mean Democrats simply cannot win more than a few seats, despite having more votes. And for more on that, watch the TED Talk given by Daylin Leach, he explains exactly why and how this is happening.

How exactly does this fit in with the oft-repeated need for "small government" that conservatives constantly carp about and their supposed love of our Constitution and founding fathers? It really is quite the mystery. Some might kindly call it misguided, I say it is time to call it what it is: a cowardly plot to undermine our government and usurp our individual freedoms, launder our public funds into private profit and control everything from what we read to how we shop.

So I hope you will join me in calling out the Republicans and put an end to the red tide that is stealing our votes. We start by paying attention. We change it by speaking up. We protect this great experiment by remembering, this is all ours. The government. The rules. The legislatures. They don't rule us, they represent us.

So find out who is running in November. Because yes, right now, this is the most important election of your lifetime. And yes, I am going to tell you that every November. Because honestly, every election is the most important election of your life. We don't get to skip an election and think nature isn't going to abhor that vacuum. Science doesn't care if you don't believe in facts. And elections are won by those who show up.

So start going to meetings, from local councils and school board, to zoning, planning and election board. Meet with your legislators, call, write and email them. Don't for one minute think that your voice isn't important, because I have proof that the only thing that can change anything is you. I know for a fact that the one thing that can stop the TPP, ALEC and the theft of our votes and our collective inalienable rights is you, me and a few million of our closest friends.

We have a responsibility, to our children, to each other and to every man and woman who has died defending this idea of freedom and democracy. If every one of us who believed in progressive change stood up and called out those who are obstructing it, if we all show up at the polls, if we help elect strong progressive candidates and support them with our time and money, I promise you, we will change the world.

It is time to get started. It is time to do more than hope for change. It is time to make change happen.