How to close the institutional empathy gap
Lessons from Capitol Hill

War by other means

CivilWarIf war is politics by other means, it can work the other way too. What we're seeing in D.C. these days is politics as continuation of the Civil War.

There is little doubt that the current gridlock in Washington was the brainchild of Tea Party Republicans. What's less obvious is that the Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives is essentially the old Confederacy. 

Of the 47 members of the Tea Party Caucus in the House, 31 -- or two-thirds -- are from former states of the Confederacy.

They aren't trying to restore slavery, but their other motivations are very similar. They object to the federal government's meddling in their lives, want to starve the beast to death, and question the legitimacy of the current president. 

Their districts are 10% more affluent and 3% "whiter" than average within their own states. Voters in their districts are also less likely to use food stamps and more likely to have health insurance.

Those districts didn't just happen. As Republicans gained control of state legislatures, they rejiggered election districts so they could withdraw into what the Cook Political Report calls "safe, lily-white strongholds."

According to Cook, many Republican districts are products of "creative redistricting."  It notes, for example: "Using only 2010 census data, Rep. Daniel Webster’s Central Florida district jumped from 57 percent white to 66 percent white; Rep. Pete Sessions’s Dallas-area district leaped from 42 percent to 53 percent white; and Rep. Pat Tiberi’s Central Ohio district soared from 68 percent to 88 percent white. All three Republicans had relatively close races in the last decade but won easily in 2012."

As the nation gets more diverse, the GOP is getting whiter. Just what old Jefferson Davis had in mind.

 

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