In 2012, Wisconsin Democrats won 53% of the popular vote in local Assembly races, only to win a mere 39% of the seats. Despite Wisconsin Republicans receiving fewer overall votes than their political counterparts, they walked away with more than 60% of Assembly seats. This was due to gerrymandering, or strategic redistricting by state legislatures to favor one party over the other. Rather than voters choosing their politicians, partisan gerrymandering allows politicians to choose their voters. With electoral systems becoming less inclusive and increasingly unsafe, we stand to lose equal representation and hard-fought progress.
This is the focus of Barak Goodman and Chris Durrance’s new documentary Slay the Dragon. In what Variety refers to as “the most important political film of the year”, Slay the Dragon takes an extensive look at the REDMAP project of 2010, where gerrymandering was essentially put on steroids. Redistricting experts in Slay the Dragon are transparent about project REDMAP’s intentions: to ensure Republican victories, which meant suppressing the votes of minorities.
Packed with interviews from voting experts, politicians of both parties, and anti-gerrymandering activists, Slay the Dragon gives a well-crafted explanation of the devastating effects of gerrymandering and the dangers it poses to democracy. In a system where politicians draw lines to pick their voters and are thus no longer held accountable by their constituents, there is a clear line between gerrymandering and America’s increasing polarization. This is why we’ve seen more and more extreme legislation passed in a number of states, ranging from voter ID laws to less restrictive gun safety laws. Gerrymandering touches every aspect of our lives.
People of all political backgrounds should be concerned with gerrymandering and its contribution to the erosion of democracy. Slay the Dragon gives a concise look into a problem that has plagued American politics for the last decade and optimistically highlights those who are fighting to change it.
Take Action! With 2020 being both an election year and a census year, Slay the Dragon is a pertinent watch. Rent it now for $6 on Amazon Prime. To see other viewing options, click here.