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👀 Picking your politicians…
#339 | … or are politicians picking you?
I recently played Shasn for the first time. A board game about strategy and politics in which you stand for an election and naturally, you do whatever you can to win. Stand by policies you don’t always agree with. Acquire resources. Influence the masses. Scheme, trigger headlines, and betray some friends along the way. You know, like politics in real life.
One of the ways in which you rig things in your favour (in the game and in irl politics) is to gerrymander. Gerrymandering isn’t new; the term has been around for a couple of centuries. It involves redrawing voting districts in ways that favour a certain political party. You can ‘pack’ a certain group of voters into just a few districts, weakening any power they might have in other districts. Or you could ‘crack’ them, distributing them across so many districts that they don’t really have their voice heard anywhere.
Expectedly (but not always), such practices result in some pretty weird-looking electoral districts. In fact, that’s how the term gerrymander came about: Gerry, for then Governor Elbridge Gerry, under whom Massachusetts Senate election districts were redrawn in the early 1800s + salamander, which is what people thought one of the redrawn districts looked like.
Gerrymandering is extremely undemocratic, but laws haven’t exactly kept up. The practice occurs in different ways in different parts of the world. It fuels polarisation, and its worst costs are usually borne by minority communities.
This simple game helps you understand how such redrawing works. If you want to level up (though why would you want to, it’s not really a skill you want to put on your CV), play this. Don’t go expecting good vibes or optimism.
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