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Gerrymandering

In the process of setting electoral districts, gerrymandering is a practice intended to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries. The resulting district is known as a gerrymander (/ˈdʒɛriˌmændər/); however, that word can also refer to the process. The term gerrymandering has negative connotations. That was Wikipedia so far.

As the term has negative connotations, several politicians have repeatedly tried to correct this sorry sate of affairs; now, it seems, it is the turn of the former Attorney General of the USA, Mr. Eric Holden, and the soon to be former Persident of the USA, Mr. Barack Obama, to valiantly try again. I dare to predict that this foolish exercise will also not be brought to fruition. The vested interest of the incumbents are probably too strong. As it is the incumbents who wield power and it is them who benefit most from this manipulation it seems illogical bordering on the ridiculous to expect them to forgo an obvious electoral advange just because of such an abstract notion as fairness.

Convetional wisdom states that the word gerrymander was used for the first time in the Boston Gazette on 26 March 1812. The word supposed to have been created in reaction to a redrawing of Massachusetts state senate election districts under Governor Elbridge Gerry (1744–1814). Two years before his death Governor Gerry signed a bill that redistricted Massachusetts to benefit his Democratic-Republican Party. When mapped, one of the contorted districts in the Boston area was said to resemble the shape of a salamander. This story is apocryphal, the benefits for his Party was a distraction. What he actually was trying to do was to prove the four-color-theorem wrong, but he failed in this endeavor for two reasons: he did not have a computer (this is the first theorem proved by means of a computer) and the theorem is right, as can clearly be seen in the representaion of the district in question and its neighboring districts.

Maurits Cornelius Escher made beautiful tesselations with salamanders and only three colors and he was not even a politician!

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