As of 2022, the state of Ohio has yet to fix its gerrymandering issue. With the new census results showing clear drops in Ohio’s population, the state has lost a district and must therefore redistrict. From there, Governor Mike DeWine and the majority party began work on new districts but continued to face backlash due to clear signs of gerrymandering. He would continue to have maps rejected to a point where the currently accepted congressional map will only be taken for four years due to its passing with no support from the Democrat party. For the next four years, the state of Ohio will continue to be hand drawn and methodically created to favor political parties, and this will be detrimental to our democracy.
This issue of gerrymandering is not new and continues to be a driving force in the question of the United State’s democratic backsliding. Ohio has always been one of the largest offenders. One look at their former congressional map would have you scratch your head in confusion as to how any of those districts could have been decided. Politicians and redistricting committees could argue that there was a method to the madness but one look at the political party distribution leads you to realize their true intentions.
Ohio has always been the subject of gerrymandering and while their new map may look somewhat more believable, critical issues still arise. The main issue is that with the newly created districts, there is no longer a seat with a black majority. This is cause for concern as Ohio is home to many ethnic minorities and yet the new congressional districts all have a majority white population. In addition, many areas that are primarily blue are clumped together to maintain a secure balance of seats in favor of the Republican party. With these clear imbalances in districts and suppression of certain minorities, it is clear that Ohio is heading in the wrong direction in terms of maintaining a truly democratic system.
What gerrymandering does is it continues to silence minorities and allows the current seat of power to create a system with smaller pushback. As leaders continue to utilize gerrymandering they are able to take advantage of regional biases and maintain their rule with very little effort. While this may be an extreme concern in the case of our democracy here in the US, small lapses of power can become out of hand and can lead to even more critical results. With the development of these heavily favored districts, you create political disinterest. Citizens will be less likely to even consider going to the ballots if they already know where their district will lean. While most people care for who their leaders are, their livelihoods will always come first so most won’t try and move or join other districts to help push their agendas.
In addition to political disinterest, gerrymandering is the mathematical way governments are able to suppress a large population or majority from being truly represented. The state of Ohio has continuously held its reputation as a swing state that houses both sides of the political spectrum. However many of the democrats continue to be clumped in these major cities leading them to be easily suppressed as the republicans are much more spread out around the state. This leads to a situation where the majority of the population could be in favor of one side but due to the districting, the other side prevails. This leads to certain individuals meaning and contributing more within a supposedly “democratic system”. This goes against the values built on a democracy one that states that all citizens are created equal.
The clear cause of this issue has been the continuous rise and escalation of polarization. Since the most recent election parties have become less and less cooperative. Issues like this are only amplified within a state like Ohio which has been one of the most contentious states in recent elections. As political parties continue to be at war with each other they lose their sense of cooperation and working across party lines. They instead turn to more devious and exploitative measures in order to ensure political dominance. The issue may have started with one party but both parties inevitably become offenders as they feel they have no choice but to play the same way. Polarization continues to push this “us against them” narrative within our country and this is exemplified by the current state of Ohio politics. The fact that political parties continue to grasp at any form of an advantage, even one that can misrepresent the state as a whole, to gain a political advantage shows how dire current politics have become.
Ohio continues to find itself in a predicament where polarization has allowed itself to no longer reach an agreement across party lines. Even if a new administration comes and takes over, it is still up in the air whether history will just repeat itself on the other side.