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Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind The Secret Plan To Steal America's Democracy

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With Barack Obama’s historic election in 2008, pundits proclaimed the Republicans as dead as the Whigs of yesteryear. Yet even as Democrats swooned, a small cadre of Republican operatives, including Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie, and Chris Jankowski began plotting their comeback with a simple yet ingenious plan. These men had devised a way to take a tradition of dirty tricks—kno With Barack Obama’s historic election in 2008, pundits proclaimed the Republicans as dead as the Whigs of yesteryear. Yet even as Democrats swooned, a small cadre of Republican operatives, including Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie, and Chris Jankowski began plotting their comeback with a simple yet ingenious plan. These men had devised a way to take a tradition of dirty tricks—known to political insiders as “ratf**king”—to a whole new, unprecedented level. Flooding state races with a gold rush of dark money made possible by Citizens United, the Republicans reshaped state legislatures, where the power to redistrict is held. Reconstructing this never- told-before story, David Daley examines the far-reaching effects of this so-called REDMAP program, which has radically altered America’s electoral map and created a firewall in the House, insulating the party and its wealthy donors from popular democracy. Ratf**ked pulls back the curtain on one of the greatest heists in American political history.


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With Barack Obama’s historic election in 2008, pundits proclaimed the Republicans as dead as the Whigs of yesteryear. Yet even as Democrats swooned, a small cadre of Republican operatives, including Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie, and Chris Jankowski began plotting their comeback with a simple yet ingenious plan. These men had devised a way to take a tradition of dirty tricks—kno With Barack Obama’s historic election in 2008, pundits proclaimed the Republicans as dead as the Whigs of yesteryear. Yet even as Democrats swooned, a small cadre of Republican operatives, including Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie, and Chris Jankowski began plotting their comeback with a simple yet ingenious plan. These men had devised a way to take a tradition of dirty tricks—known to political insiders as “ratf**king”—to a whole new, unprecedented level. Flooding state races with a gold rush of dark money made possible by Citizens United, the Republicans reshaped state legislatures, where the power to redistrict is held. Reconstructing this never- told-before story, David Daley examines the far-reaching effects of this so-called REDMAP program, which has radically altered America’s electoral map and created a firewall in the House, insulating the party and its wealthy donors from popular democracy. Ratf**ked pulls back the curtain on one of the greatest heists in American political history.

30 review for Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind The Secret Plan To Steal America's Democracy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Christy

    Everybody knows demographics are numbers about people (demos) but the field is far from beneign - those numbers are used to control people - to label, to sort, to literally and figuratively divide and conquer. I'm not sure why we all didn't read this book when it came out, because I knew of it and was stupidly distracted with more "ballot box" issues of how the Voter's Rights Act of '65 was gutted and un-/under-enforced, both. However, some recent Washington Post attention pulled me back to Burke Everybody knows demographics are numbers about people (demos) but the field is far from beneign - those numbers are used to control people - to label, to sort, to literally and figuratively divide and conquer. I'm not sure why we all didn't read this book when it came out, because I knew of it and was stupidly distracted with more "ballot box" issues of how the Voter's Rights Act of '65 was gutted and un-/under-enforced, both. However, some recent Washington Post attention pulled me back to Burke's book on how the judicial branch keeps race-based discrimination intact through gerrymandering: The Appearance of Equality: Racial Gerrymandering, Redistricting, and the Supreme Court so I added a short review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... Democrats truly are "rat-f**cked", as while both political parties did redistricting it was so much more and with much more drastic results by the Republican party. Years after Burke exposed the problem, Daley describes the Big Data software program that allowed the gerrymandering to increase exponentially and with devastating results for Democrats. I'd known the lovely term of "rat-f**cking" to mean the political gaming of the rules of democracy but had forgotten it came from Watergate's Bernstein and Woodward. Here is a map about what the US would look like politically without gerrymandering: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/w...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    This book infuriated me but also lowered the decibel level of my political retorts. I can clearly see now the utter cynicism with which Republican strategists set about grabbing as many seats as they could with the intent to hold onto them for a decade or more by controlling the redistricting process. “When you have power you exercise it.” The gerrymander is the reason Blue states can appear to vote Red. What is so pitiful is that we can still hear voters talking about what they believe like it This book infuriated me but also lowered the decibel level of my political retorts. I can clearly see now the utter cynicism with which Republican strategists set about grabbing as many seats as they could with the intent to hold onto them for a decade or more by controlling the redistricting process. “When you have power you exercise it.” The gerrymander is the reason Blue states can appear to vote Red. What is so pitiful is that we can still hear voters talking about what they believe like it actually makes any difference to the operatives in Congress. It is difficult to keep the partisanship out of discussions of politics, but I am going to try because the issue discussed in this book, gerrymandering, was/is really practiced by Democrats as well as Republicans. The Republicans, under the leadership of a legendary Republican campaign strategist called Lee Atwater, recognized in the 1980s that controlling the right to draw the lines of voting districts could mean greater Republican representation in local, state, and national races. They began a strategy which would not see results for thirty years. This decade it has come to fruition. Several states are laboring under gerrymanders so severely skewed to the Republicans that although Democrats win a majority of the votes, their representation actually falls. This book gives some of the background, especially for those states we watch closely in the national elections: Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania. An international non-profit which specializes in vote monitoring around the world turned its analytic eye on the United States, the “greatest democracy in the world” according to some, and discovered that North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania had electoral representation more skewed to favor one party than many third-world countries. Wisconsin, the state that brings you Speaker Ryan, has greater than 50% Democratic votes but has 60+% Republican seats. Wisconsin’s redistricting is currently handled by their Republican legislature, which allowed the national Republican party, with funds provided by Koch Brothers, to draw their redistricting maps. In closed sessions, deep secrecy, late night and storm days they would gather to prevent transparency of their process and to ensure Republican voters were the largest voting block in most districts. Even in a largely Democratic state, they managed to break, stack, crack, pack the districts with enough Republican voters to grab Congressional and state seats, and the governorship. Wisconsin used to be a Deep Blue state. In November 2016 a federal court ordered that the voting districts in Wisconsin be redrawn by November 2017. Wisconsin Republicans (including Paul Ryan) refused, and appealed the decision to the Supreme Court (SCOTUS). Meanwhile, voters in Wisconsin are seriously disenfranchised. This is happening now, folks, and can be watched as it progresses through the courts. Pennsylvania is the third most voter-obstructed state. Last year a youth pastor, Carol Kuniholm, noticed extraordinary discrepancies between the schools in some city districts and suburban schools and discovered one of the main reasons was underrepresentation due to gerrymandering. Kuniholm began a movement in PA which has taken on enormous momentum within the state and is garnering national recognition. You can watch progress of her attempt to introduce a bill to require an independent nonpartisan committee to decide contiguous, compact districts that do not break communities, cities, or racial blocks at fairdistrictspa.com. She wants nothing less than the democratic process to work as intended. Daley shows that state legislature-managed redistricting can be severely partisan. Citizens in some states have managed to pass referendums requiring nonpartisan independent committees to manage redistricting. The independent committee works well in Iowa but is still subject to vicious partisan wrangling in Arizona. Some academics have taken on the challenge of trying to envision a better, more democratic process and Daley discusses these at the end of his book. And this is the part of the book that I liked best of all. At the end Daley points out that gerrymandering has been ‘stealing people’s votes’ for centuries and it may have come up against its logical limits this decade. Because of the advances in computer modeling, coupled with voter awareness and rage at the government we have been handed, it may be possible to do something completely different. He points out that if Hillary had won the electoral college vote, she would have faced the same intransigence in Congress that stymied Obama. Instead, we got Trump. Daley quotes a Republican operative, Grover Norquist, talking with utter cynicism to a Conservative Political Action conference in 2012: ”We are not auditioning for a fearless leader. We don’t need a president to tell us what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We just need a president to sign this stuff. Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States.”The GOP will keep Trump around as long as he can sign stuff and listens to what they say. So, okay. This is what we are dealing with. It means we need to pay attention, focus our energy, rely on each other, and tell our legislators we want fairness and representation. This book is a very easy read because it is so eye-opening. It gives you the basics, suggests a fix, and points a direction. What more do we need?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    Sports analogy: I root for the Cubs. You know what that's like. Rooting for the Cubs taught me that everything is losing, that even winning will just lead to more painful losing, that finding a few shoots of light through the clouds just means the rain is delayed. That the pain is coming, that it's going to hurt more and then less and then double or triple and then scab and then fester. This transfers to being a Democrat. I had Slick Willy, sure, but his behavior(s) in office was so repulsive to m Sports analogy: I root for the Cubs. You know what that's like. Rooting for the Cubs taught me that everything is losing, that even winning will just lead to more painful losing, that finding a few shoots of light through the clouds just means the rain is delayed. That the pain is coming, that it's going to hurt more and then less and then double or triple and then scab and then fester. This transfers to being a Democrat. I had Slick Willy, sure, but his behavior(s) in office was so repulsive to my younger, idealistic self. I thought a man should never throw his friends under the bus. I had Gore/Lieberman, and so voted for Nader. I had John Kerry, a war hero turned into an effete tree hugger. Then I had Barack. Nothing could spoil that. I, a Cubs fan, started to wonder. My mindset shifted. Maybe this President. Maybe he can. Maybe it will last. That feeling, watching him in Grant Park, only a short interstate ride to the North. It was like we could hear the crowd from our living room. I had two kids then. This was it; my generation was going to be remembered as the one that changed things. You want to know why we didn't? Read Daley's book. It's one piece of the ratfucking puzzle. It's hard to read, harder to read for me than just about any nonfiction I've ever read. Because it's all real, it's all truth. This happened. More people vote for Democrats in Pennsylvania and yet Republicans dominate their congressional representation. Districts end up looking like cartoon characters and abstract art because they can slice them down to the curb by who votes for whom. But you gotta read this book. The same way I had to accept that my Cubs are no longer only going to bring me pain. The Democrats need their own Theo Epstein (Daley will hate this, as a known Theo hater). They need someone to teach them how to win these ratfucking battles. (Full disclosure, Dave and I are friends. And by friends I mean I beat him in fantasy baseball and he sends me great links to 1980s indie-rock bands.)

  4. 4 out of 5

    George Nap

    This book pissed me off, I mean really aggravated me. I actually almost stopped reading during the introduction and first chapter. But I decided the issue was too important to not understand it better. Understand what happened, how it happened and what can be done about it. Redistricting is not a sexy issue and not an issue with immediate consequences, but it is the absolute bedrock of our political system. And it was left unguarded, unguarded by a gentleman's agreement which lasted until one par This book pissed me off, I mean really aggravated me. I actually almost stopped reading during the introduction and first chapter. But I decided the issue was too important to not understand it better. Understand what happened, how it happened and what can be done about it. Redistricting is not a sexy issue and not an issue with immediate consequences, but it is the absolute bedrock of our political system. And it was left unguarded, unguarded by a gentleman's agreement which lasted until one party saw oblivion in its path and did what any organism does when faced with that, it fights back, tooth and nail. That a group which opposes evolution so clearly proved its validity in its actions provides a wry irony which would be funny if it was not so serious. The game has been rigged by lines drawn to concentrate one set of voters in the smallest number of districts and guarantee the minority a permanent majority. Yes, one side was asleep at the switch, but there is something inherently unfair about what was done. One group of partisan political operatives played a long game, gained control of the process and then rigged the process to maintain that control in the face of numbers which are not supportive of such control. I am sure they congratulate themselves about this, about how they won and rigged the system and claimed the glory. These people, mostly white, mostly male, who never swore an oath to the Constitution, who never heard a shot fired in anger, who never performed a true selfless public service took away our voices. This should make you angry. It makes me angry. Not which side is in control, that is tangential to the greater wrong, the theft of our voice and our power as people. Read this book, get angry and decide to do something about it. I know I have.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Judie

    The graphics on the inside covers of RAT F**KED are not Rorschach drawings. They are the actual congressional or legislative districts in several US states as determined by their GOP- controlled state legislatures. They help explain why Congress and many statehouses have GOP majorities even though the numbers of Democrats in those states are higher than or almost equal to the number of Republicans. As the book says at the end, “The House of Representatives was designed to be the chamber most res The graphics on the inside covers of RAT F**KED are not Rorschach drawings. They are the actual congressional or legislative districts in several US states as determined by their GOP- controlled state legislatures. They help explain why Congress and many statehouses have GOP majorities even though the numbers of Democrats in those states are higher than or almost equal to the number of Republicans. As the book says at the end, “The House of Representatives was designed to be the chamber most responsive to the will of the people. Instead, it has become impervious and insulated from it.” David Daley drove along the parameters of every district mentioned in the book, examining the differences between what was on each side of the dividing line and how the districts spread over long, irregular areas. The term “rat f**king” originated during the 1970s by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they investigated the Watergate breakthrough that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon and the indictment of many of his top level staff members. It refers to the dirty tricks played by politicians, in these cases Republicans, in order to win elections. While the activities have appeared in many guises, in this book it refers specifically to actions taken by the Republican party to draw Congressional districts in key states in such a manner that their candidates would be sure to win elections for at least a decade. “We have been sorted into districts where the middle does not matter, where the contest only comes down to the most ideological and rancorous on either side.” Democratic candidates were packed into smaller areas while other areas would be almost certain to vote for the Republicans. The Democrats have done it, e.g., in Chicago in 2010, but most of the activity has been done by the Republicans. The term for this is gerrymandering. District lines were drawn to protect incumbents. Instead of the electorate picking their representatives, the representatives were picking the people. There are no electoral consequences for extremism. It may even be rewarded in the district. GOP thought ahead and stocked courts with GOP judges. It didn’t happen by chance. Computer technology enabled them to work block by block to determine the political affiliation, contributions, income, race, gender, ethnicity, and how many voters actually showed up at the polls. They were able to project changes in the demographics for at least the next decade. The computer program, called REDMAP cost $30 million. Technology is a threat and a promise. Easier to do, easier to spot. For the GOP, it was a bargain. In 2012, Obama received 332 votes in the Electoral College while Romney received 206. Democrats won 23 out of the 33 Senate races . Even though 1.4 million more Americans voted for the Democrat candidate, the GOP won 33 more House seats than Democrats. Eight states are singled out as the worst offenders or biggest winners, depending on your outlook. In Pennsylvania in 2008, Democrats had a 12-7 Congressional advantage. In 2010, 1.2 million more people were registered as Democrats than as Republicans but the GOP majority turned it 21-7 in their favor. In 2012, there were a half million more votes for Democrat House candidates than for Republican candidates and Obama had more than 300,000 more votes than Romney, but the Democrats won only 28 percent of the seats. The GOP captured 9 of their 13 seats with less than 60% of the votes. Three of the five Democrats won by more than 75 percent of the votes. Among the maps considered was one called “NC Without Odd Minority Districts” and NC House Less Convoluted.” Along with targeting districts into which to pack Democrats, spending large sums of money, massive advertising, much of it misleading or actual lies during the last month of the campaign, all work to discourage Democrats from voting. For example, in Pennsylvania, the GOP publicized spending $10 million for the Arlen Spector Library. The truth was the $10 million figure was for the capital budget for the entire state. The library cost was $600 million. In North Carolina’s 12th district, from Greensboro to Charlotte, has a 907 mile perimeter. As of this writing, courts ruled the redistricting unconstitutional, though the boundaries will not change before the 2016 election. In Michigan, Democrats had a 65-42 lead. After redistricting, the GOP picked up 20 House seats and Republican majorities in both state houses. Obama won by just under 10 points. The Democratic Senate candidate won by 20 points. But the GOP Congress candidates won 9-5. The map for District 14 was developed to combine the black voters in Detroit and Pontiac while skirting around areas that had more Republicans and could be divided among several districts. One small area, almost completely encircled by District14, was siphoned out to so the wealthy, white Republican residents could guarantee GOP winners. In Ohio, of the 16 state legislative districts, 12 of them went to Republicans even though they had won only 51% of the vote. Email records exposed the planning that went into determining boundaries for safe districts that could endure for years. The maps were not available for the Democrat members of the legislative committee, let alone the public to examine, before they were presented on the floor and passed by the GOP. When groups fight to get rid of the gerrymandering, the GOP state government uses taxpayer money to defend them while the Democrats have to find outside funding. In Florida, it took four years for the GOP redistricting plan to get to the GOP Supreme Court, which found it unconstitutional. The plan came from secret meetings and two separate meetings, one private and one public. People who testified were preselected and coached. In Wisconsin, the GOP used what they called the “efficiency gap.” That was the difference between the parties’ wasted votes divided by the total votes cast after voters were either crammed into a district or divided among several districts depending on the result they wanted (i.e., more GOP seats). When drawing up the redistricting plan, only GOP legislators were permitted to see it and they had to sign a confidentiality agreement first, which they all did. They were only shown their own district. Iowa tried to make redistricting work by passing very specific requirements for the make up of the redistricting committee. One advantage was the population of the state is very homogeneous. Secondly, the elected officials wanted it to work without creating problems. They wanted districts where each party had a chance of winning the election. But REDMAP was used and the GOP came out ahead of their percentage figures would suggest. The extremists elected burned out who dropped out. “Politicians...find if there’s more competition, then they’re more likely to work with one another.” In Arizona, the first time they tried using an independent commission after the 2000 census, it got worse because of an ambitious Democrat. One of his appointees only interest was in preserving a seat for the incumbent. In 2012, Democratic candidates for Congress took more votes than Republicans. For the first time in forty years, they failed to take control of the House. The mapmakers make it hard to affect elections. More money flows into politics with each cycle. Mapmaking technology will only improve. Broad support for Obama’s issues--climate change, immigration, reproductive rights, guns, minimum wage, as well as universal health care–are supported by the public. They are defeated by the gerrymandered office holders. Representatives are pressured to vote certain ways, usually more to the right, whether they agree with that position or not, to remain in office. What can be done to correct this? GOP pushing for voter ID laws, complicated registration, reduced polling hours and locations to limit the number of people who will probably vote Democratic, primarily minorities and those with a lower economic status. Voter fraud is a smokescreen since it is extremely rare. The best way for eligible voters to make a major change is to actually cast a ballot. Only 36.6% of the registered voters actually voted in 2014, the lowest turnout since the forties. Apathetic Democrats have elected the current members by staying home. In 1994, only 38.8% of eligible voters turned out. Newt Gingrich called the GOP win a mandate, instituted his“Contract for America” and caused a government shutdown. From 2006-2012, only a quarter of all Americans voted. Those that did were whiter, wealthier, and older than the general population. In 2010, non-voters would have gone Democratic 34% to 31%. Presidential-year-only voters backed Democrats 43% to 37. The ones who turned out regularly: 50% to 46%. Other methods, more complicated and costly, are for citizens to use referendums and initiatives to stand up and say our democratic values matter too deeply. The changes must be at all levels of government. The President’s powers are limited, as we saw what Obama faced with a GOP dominated Congress dedicated to prevent any of his issues. But it’s the local and state levels that most influence our lives and where future federal leaders earn their credentials. Most important in gerrymandering situation, it is at the state level that districts are created. The more people who actually learn more about the candidates and vote intelligently, the less this problem will be able to continue. While the title of the book really turned me off, it has been used to describe dirty political tricks. The book itself is well-written and researched and every eligible voter, especially those who don’t vote for whatever reason, should read it, preferably before the next election.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    Scary and disheartening. Should be required reading for all Democratic lawmakers whose feckless and smug complacency contributed mightily to this sorry state of affairs. "It can't happen here?" It already has. Thank you, the five "justices" who gave us "Citizens United". I'll have more to say in a revised review, but right now I need to go shine my jackboots. Scary and disheartening. Should be required reading for all Democratic lawmakers whose feckless and smug complacency contributed mightily to this sorry state of affairs. "It can't happen here?" It already has. Thank you, the five "justices" who gave us "Citizens United". I'll have more to say in a revised review, but right now I need to go shine my jackboots.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Paulatics

    Even knowing as much as I do about redistricting, I learned so much more. The GOP's "Red Map" program is a technological and diabolical system of drawing districts to maintain their majorities and keep them for generations. When lawmakers pick their voters instead of voters picking their legislators, then our democracy is in great peril. The chapter on North Carolina was of particular interest to me because that's where I live and where I am politically involved. I was there. I watched it happen Even knowing as much as I do about redistricting, I learned so much more. The GOP's "Red Map" program is a technological and diabolical system of drawing districts to maintain their majorities and keep them for generations. When lawmakers pick their voters instead of voters picking their legislators, then our democracy is in great peril. The chapter on North Carolina was of particular interest to me because that's where I live and where I am politically involved. I was there. I watched it happen. And yet, I had no idea how systematic and planned it was. The stories of other states gerrymandering are equally appalling. A Federal Court said the maps drawn by NC Republicans used "surgical precision" to suppress the Democratic and Minority vote. It was so blatant. And horrifying. So, the GOP draws districts that are ready-made for Republicans and impossible for Democrats to win. Then they pack all the African American voters into 2 or 3 majority/minority districts that allow for a few Black candidates to win. Then they pass voter suppression laws that make it harder, if not impossible, for African Americans, senior citizens and students to vote. The GOP- the party that hates government, but wants to control it. They have no intention of governing and lack the necessary skills to do so. The point is made over and over that a nonpartisan or citizen redistricting committee will not take the politics out of this process. The Republican nominee for President is correct about the system being rigged. But it has been rigged by the Republican Party.

  8. 5 out of 5

    McGrouchpants. McGrouchpants!

    You won't believe this book's thesis. He details some stuff at the end that's worth doing until 2020, but, until then, the majority's the Republicans' for the duration. REDMAP's a really, really neat idea that no-one thought of 'till recently. True to form, the Democrats refused to stoop/didn't anticipate the threat/can console themselves with Republicans' chanting "hey, either side gets to win if they manage it!" like there's no such thing as dirty pool, and it's as free open and unfettered compe You won't believe this book's thesis. He details some stuff at the end that's worth doing until 2020, but, until then, the majority's the Republicans' for the duration. REDMAP's a really, really neat idea that no-one thought of 'till recently. True to form, the Democrats refused to stoop/didn't anticipate the threat/can console themselves with Republicans' chanting "hey, either side gets to win if they manage it!" like there's no such thing as dirty pool, and it's as free open and unfettered competition as building a better mousetrap. Your. Vote. Won't. Count. Until. 2020.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    Interesting to read this book post-2016 election, as it was written before that. Had I read it in advance of November, I'd have found no suspense as the returns rolled in. Daley did an excellent job of explaining gerrymandering, giving a bit of history and a sharing lot of foresight into where we likely will be stuck for the next several years. The state-by-state rundown got a little tiresome and redundant about mid-way through, but it worked to paint the full picture of the ratf**cking in all i Interesting to read this book post-2016 election, as it was written before that. Had I read it in advance of November, I'd have found no suspense as the returns rolled in. Daley did an excellent job of explaining gerrymandering, giving a bit of history and a sharing lot of foresight into where we likely will be stuck for the next several years. The state-by-state rundown got a little tiresome and redundant about mid-way through, but it worked to paint the full picture of the ratf**cking in all its glory. Timely read, too, as evidenced by all of the redistricting stories in the news.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    This is a great read. If you read Chapter 7 and aren't ready to fight for redistricting and electoral reform, than you don't want a democracy or a representative republic. This is a great read. If you read Chapter 7 and aren't ready to fight for redistricting and electoral reform, than you don't want a democracy or a representative republic.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alexis

    A must read for anyone who wants to understand our current political gridlock, how characters like Trump have burst onto the scene and how the Republican Party moves further to the right while the majority of America is diverse, wants gun control, and supports Planned Parenthood. The answer: gerrymandering. Any Democratic Party person who talks only of getting out the vote is naive or ignoring the elephant in the room (no pun intended). We need to put an end to gerrymandering by not letting parti A must read for anyone who wants to understand our current political gridlock, how characters like Trump have burst onto the scene and how the Republican Party moves further to the right while the majority of America is diverse, wants gun control, and supports Planned Parenthood. The answer: gerrymandering. Any Democratic Party person who talks only of getting out the vote is naive or ignoring the elephant in the room (no pun intended). We need to put an end to gerrymandering by not letting parties draw the lines. In Ohio, Republicans hold a super-majority in the House despite receiving a minority of the votes. In Pennsylvania, democrats received 50.7% of votes cast, Republicans 49.3. The actual delegates sent to congress? 13 Republicans and 5 Democrats. This is not just about getting Democrats in power - this is about fairness, democracy, and having a voice.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    Thanks to Net Galley for the ARC. Are you a political junkie? If so, this book is for you. Are you a person who votes in Presidential elections but does not give two sh!ts about the off year and off month elections? This book is for you. Are you a person? This book is for you. RatF**ked is a term that means to be politically sabotaged. On the surface, the term RatF**k is pretty awful. It is awful because this book is about awful things that are politically motivated and totally legal. Kick in th Thanks to Net Galley for the ARC. Are you a political junkie? If so, this book is for you. Are you a person who votes in Presidential elections but does not give two sh!ts about the off year and off month elections? This book is for you. Are you a person? This book is for you. RatF**ked is a term that means to be politically sabotaged. On the surface, the term RatF**k is pretty awful. It is awful because this book is about awful things that are politically motivated and totally legal. Kick in the gut. Slap to the face. Read this book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    Crazy history of congressional gerrymandering. I thought I knew how bad this was. I didn't know the half of it Crazy history of congressional gerrymandering. I thought I knew how bad this was. I didn't know the half of it

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    In 2008, a Republican lobbyist realized that by turning just a few key state house and senate seats in 2010, the Republicans would control the legislative redistricting that would follow the 2010 Census. In other words, for a relatively small chunk of change forces outside states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, were able to give those states the ability to create congressional seats that would deliberately provide a big majority of Republican held seats in the House of Representatives eve In 2008, a Republican lobbyist realized that by turning just a few key state house and senate seats in 2010, the Republicans would control the legislative redistricting that would follow the 2010 Census. In other words, for a relatively small chunk of change forces outside states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, were able to give those states the ability to create congressional seats that would deliberately provide a big majority of Republican held seats in the House of Representatives even though the populations of those states did not vote overwhelmingly for one party. I had heard some of these stories about redistricting before but it was always accompanied by the caveat, "But when Democrats are in power in a state they do the same thing." What this book makes so clear is that Republicans were not just hoping they had power in their state legislatures and governorship following the 2010 Census to make this happen, there was a deliberate Right Wing Conspiracy to consolidate power. This is scary but also demonstrates clearly the need for grass-roots activism to spur states to change from systems where redistricting is done by the party in power, to a bi-partisan commission, as several states already have in place. The writing in this book is, at times, clunky, but I was willing to overlook it to get to the meaty heart of the book. I especially liked chapter 2, as it pertained to my own district and state.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nelson Minar

    A fantastic detailed book, essential reading to understand US politics of 2010 to now and where the fight will be in 2020. The New Yorker review is a good summary / encouragement to read the whole book. A fantastic detailed book, essential reading to understand US politics of 2010 to now and where the fight will be in 2020. The New Yorker review is a good summary / encouragement to read the whole book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Billie Pritchett

    My biggest criticism of David Daley's Ratf**ked: How the Democrats Won the Presidency But Lost America is not so much with the information conveyed but rather with the structure and presentation. Regarding the information, Daley does an excellent job exposing the way in which Republicans have gerrymandered state districts in order to achieve overwhelming majority seats per state in the House of Representatives. The book is, however, structured in one of my least favorite ways to tell a story. Wha My biggest criticism of David Daley's Ratf**ked: How the Democrats Won the Presidency But Lost America is not so much with the information conveyed but rather with the structure and presentation. Regarding the information, Daley does an excellent job exposing the way in which Republicans have gerrymandered state districts in order to achieve overwhelming majority seats per state in the House of Representatives. The book is, however, structured in one of my least favorite ways to tell a story. What you'd want here--what I'd want here, I'd say--is that the book just tell the story from beginning to end. Begin with the fact that gerrymandering was done in the United States not long after the country's founding. Then move to the 21st century, when in 2010 we began to see gerrymandering done scientifically. Tell how a program called REDMAP was created that plugged in regional voting preferences in each state. Next, show how in each state the Republicans loaded what were supposed to be nonpartisan redistricting committees with fellow Republicans, implemented the programs, and there you have it. Some who have read this book might say that the narrative I have laid out is exactly the plan this book follows, but not so. This is pretty much the introduction to the book, but most of the 12 chapters of the book move from one important electoral state to another, and instead of telling the story of what happened in that state in narrative format, Daley wants to show the reader that he has done his homework. Daley informs us of where he meet with a congressman, policy wonk, or whomever, what they ate together, the cities they drive through, and then most of the actual story is embedded in their quotes. So again, my main problem with the book is that this is a way in which I really do not want to hear a story told. Basically, every chapter goes,I sat down with Mr. X in State Y, and over Z (some food) he told me how Y went Red. "It's a shame what happened," Mr. X began. "Y was a (insert 'fairly balanced state' or 'Democratic majority state'), and then after (insert Republican operative's name) came to town, we didn't have a snowball's chance, because he introduced (a, b, c) gerrymandering tricks."And so on. If you just want the quick and down-and-dirty version of what happened, just go to the podcast Politically Re-Active and listen to the interview David Daley conducted. The episode is called "David Daley on How Republicans Ratf**ked American Democracy." I wish I had just listened to that episode than read this book. Probably will make for a good future reference book, though, as the gerrymandering problem is not likely to go away. Will probably escalate, in fact.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Ray

    By Iowa law, districts are not drawn to favor or disadvantage any party, incumbent, candidate, or constituency. Iowa districting is done by nonpartisan agencies and commissions. That’s where fairness begins. And for Iowa, it can end there. But remember that Iowa is a state of four Congressional districts, its most populous county has 430,000 population; Iowa is 91% white, there is no possibility of creating a minority-majority legislative district anywhere in Iowa. For a state with larger, blacke By Iowa law, districts are not drawn to favor or disadvantage any party, incumbent, candidate, or constituency. Iowa districting is done by nonpartisan agencies and commissions. That’s where fairness begins. And for Iowa, it can end there. But remember that Iowa is a state of four Congressional districts, its most populous county has 430,000 population; Iowa is 91% white, there is no possibility of creating a minority-majority legislative district anywhere in Iowa. For a state with larger, blacker cities, such as any of the battleground states whose results determine the U.S. presidency, the simple "let the computer draw for compactness" rule will guarantee that the majority of state residents--city dwellers who overwhelmingly vote Democratic--will choose a minority of the legislators. If fairness means that, if 60% of the state is Democratic, then 60% of the legislators should be Democrats--which is what fairness does mean--then maps have to be drawn to avoid corralling massive concentrations of Democrats in a couple districts, leaving all other districts with a Republican majority. Indeed, the Washington Post compactness districts and the current, Republican-drawn districts both concentrate Wisconsin Democrats in just that way. https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/Centr... https://www.census.gov/2010census/pop... https://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/c... https://www.legis.iowa.gov/DOCS/Resou...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    OK Daley, I'm convinced. Partisan gerrymandering is the most overlooked and underrated problem in American politics. The book was originally published in 2016 before Trump's surprising electoral college victory, but Daley wrote a lengthy and helpful epilogue that connects the dots from gerrymandered statehouse races (a number of states where the Democrats won more votes but fewer seats) to state voter suppression laws to Trump eking out an 88,000-vote win across three crucial states. In fact, if OK Daley, I'm convinced. Partisan gerrymandering is the most overlooked and underrated problem in American politics. The book was originally published in 2016 before Trump's surprising electoral college victory, but Daley wrote a lengthy and helpful epilogue that connects the dots from gerrymandered statehouse races (a number of states where the Democrats won more votes but fewer seats) to state voter suppression laws to Trump eking out an 88,000-vote win across three crucial states. In fact, if you are pressed for time, just read the introduction and epilogue. It covers most of what you need to know. It is truly essential reading if we are to save American democracy from extreme right-wing politicians — and I'm talking to reasonable Republicans as well. The gerrymandering has created safe Republican districts in which the only real contest is in the primary, forcing candidates ever more dangerously to the right.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Huxtable

    Think you live in a representational democracy? Think you choose your representatives? Think again. GOP gerrymandering in 2010 means we will have a tyranny of the minority for at least the next decade, where the politicians choose the voters, not the other way around. The gleeful cynicism and outright theft of democracy by the REDMAP plan should have all Americans, regardless of party, outraged. Thoroughly depressing.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Hal Mahaffey

    Mention "gerrymandering" to any American, and if you get any response at all it will be a shrug. There has always been gerrymandering. In the Good 'Ol Days, both democrats and republicans did it, often for each other, for the purpose of keeping incumbents in power. This does not strike me as noble, and I'm not quite sure why Americans were ok with this behavior in the past. But we did, and I'm as much to blame as anyone else. Since 2008 or so, Republicans have raised it to a new art form. By focus Mention "gerrymandering" to any American, and if you get any response at all it will be a shrug. There has always been gerrymandering. In the Good 'Ol Days, both democrats and republicans did it, often for each other, for the purpose of keeping incumbents in power. This does not strike me as noble, and I'm not quite sure why Americans were ok with this behavior in the past. But we did, and I'm as much to blame as anyone else. Since 2008 or so, Republicans have raised it to a new art form. By focusing on smaller contests (statehouses, governorships, etc) they've learned how to squeeze out majorities in the House even where they don't win the most votes. Pack a large number of democrats into a smaller number of districts and you find yourself with more representatives even with fewer votes. To add to the insult in true Republican style: they brag about it. I've reached a point in my life where I don't see much difference between democrat and republican. They both spend too bloody much money, it's just that one of them uses a charge card. But I'm truly bothered when the elections are manipulated. Openly. And this made possible by an electorate that is too stupid to object or just doesn't care. Between gerrymandering and money in politics after Citizen's United (read Lawrence Lessig's fabulous "Republic, Lost" for more), democracy in the American republic is a joke. My sense of pride in America is rapidly fading, and will be gone entirely if Americans don't wake up and realize how they're being manipulated by BOTH parties who are only interested in power and money. The whole Right/Left "fight" is fabricated to keep us distracted. It worked. They won.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Karen Kolus

    Well that made for a depressing Thanksgiving... It's important to know what's going on, though. This explains what's happened to our country in the last few years, why the people don't seem to be driving the government, why we have no power against it -- should we even be against our own government... The statistics bear out that through redistricting and other manipulations of the system, those in power are motivated to stay in power regardless of what the people want. This suppresses the vote Well that made for a depressing Thanksgiving... It's important to know what's going on, though. This explains what's happened to our country in the last few years, why the people don't seem to be driving the government, why we have no power against it -- should we even be against our own government... The statistics bear out that through redistricting and other manipulations of the system, those in power are motivated to stay in power regardless of what the people want. This suppresses the vote and elects representatives who don't actually the represent the make up of voters in the state. Somehow a majority of registered democrats (voting democrat) turns into a majority of republican districts with jacked district boundaries crossing multiple counties. In state after state. There is some good news in the later chapters: some states take the high road with reasonable districting; and there are impartial models, imperfect, but better than winner-control-the-boundaries, that create compact districting for competitive districts.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Larry Peña

    If you want a book to make you happy, don't read this one (assuming you're not a win-at-all-costs Republican political operative). If you want to read a piece of well-written and well-researched piece of investigative journalism that will fascinate you, make you angry and fire you up about the democratic process, this is the book for you. If you want a book to make you happy, don't read this one (assuming you're not a win-at-all-costs Republican political operative). If you want to read a piece of well-written and well-researched piece of investigative journalism that will fascinate you, make you angry and fire you up about the democratic process, this is the book for you.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Shauna

    Every American needs to read this. This is an Important book for democracy. I think this book has probably changed my mind on who to vote for to ensure the outcome that I see as imperative. Wow. This is an amazing book, definitely slow in parts, but so important.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Leahbh

    This was hard to take and reading it is no antidote to the environment we endure today, where a radical minority rules with impunity over a majority that is not in agreement with their policies. But do you want to understand how this inedible sausage was made? You know and understand some parts of this story, already, but here it is, all the gory details, chapter and verse - Ratf**ked.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ulf Kastner

    Gerrymandering does appear to have reached epidemic proportions and disproportional influence over what strikes me as an increasingly byzantine and anachronistic system of political representation that is all too vulnerable to whoever happens to wield the most focused, organized, ruthless and not to mention shameless force of democratic entropy.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    Made me super mad!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alex Carroll

    Such a frustrating & terrifying topic but a good read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dave Kaphammer

    A dire story of how messed up our political situation is, and rings true. Yikes. We should all know about this.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Skyler

    I hate the title. but everyone needs to read this book. fuh real.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    This is a sobering read. If Daley is correct about the effectiveness of Republican gerrymandering after the 2010 census/redistricting/midterm elections, I am fearful that Democrats (and therefore Progressives) will have to wander the political wilderness far longer than hoped. 2018 is no slam dunk for Democrats - despite Donald Trump’s abysmal approval rating. Historically the party out of the White House tends to win big in off year elections but Daley makes a strong case that the Republican ca This is a sobering read. If Daley is correct about the effectiveness of Republican gerrymandering after the 2010 census/redistricting/midterm elections, I am fearful that Democrats (and therefore Progressives) will have to wander the political wilderness far longer than hoped. 2018 is no slam dunk for Democrats - despite Donald Trump’s abysmal approval rating. Historically the party out of the White House tends to win big in off year elections but Daley makes a strong case that the Republican capture of redistricting and a concurrent push to disenfranchise minorities and the young by Republican controlled state legislatures and governorships casts grave doubt as to the Democratic Party’s ability to fight back against a structural deficit that makes Democratic votes worth less than Republican votes. Let’s hope the Supreme Court rules against Wisconsin Republicans. Let’s hope too that Democrats capture the 6 state houses in play. As for the House of Representatives - hopefully it isn’t too late.

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