Ben Affleck: Gerrymandering incentivizes partisanship & political extremism

'The Last Duel' red carpet, the 78th annual Venice International Film Festival, in Venice, Italy, 10 September 2021.

Ben Affleck took part in a virtual fundraiser this week with Tracee Ellis Ross, Hillary Clinton and former Attorney General Eric Holder. The fundraiser was basically: pay $25 to watch Ross, Affleck, Clinton and Holder talk about gerrymandering. I understand gerrymandering is a HUGE political issue and all of that, but surely the way to fundraise is to put Ben, Jennifer Lopez and Hillary Clinton in a room to talk about relationships, love and drama? No? I would pay $25 for THAT. I would not pay $25 to see Affleck interacting with Clinton and Holder on the subject of gerrymandering. But here we go:

One overly powerful political party “leads to a sense of voters not feeling like their vote counts, and in some cases they may well be justified in that feeling,” Affleck said during the event, hosted by Clinton’s Onward Together and Holder’s redistricting reform group All on the Line. “It leads to hyperpartisan politics where special interests rule and party extremists are incentivized instead of common sense and finding common ground and compromise, and a lot of this we’re seeing in our country today,” the Academy Award winner said as he railed against Republicans who “want to dodge the consequences for their actions.”

“It’s time that we end partisan gerrymandering and do everything we can to return to what we thought was the principle of one person, one vote,” agreed Clinton. “Of course politics is about power. I mean, that kind of goes without saying. But this is unaccountable power. This is power with no recourse. This is power where a small minority gets to decide whether the issues you care about will ever get a hearing, get to decide whose votes count and whose votes don’t count.”

Multiple states have had their congressional maps, redrawn after the once-a-decade census, challenged by one party or the other. On Monday, the Department of Justice filed suit against Texas over its new map, saying it dilutes minority voting strength in violation of federal law.

“I think we’re at a moment of reckoning in America,” Holder told virtual attendees, who paid at least $25 to participate. “I’m not being hyperbolic or alarmist — I think our democracy is on the line. Right now, we’re in the midst of the greatest assault on the right to vote since the Jim Crow era, from partisan and racial gerrymandering to voter suppression to the subversion of our electoral system. Our opponents are at ease bending, breaking, the rules of our democracy all for the power that they seek.”

Republican lawmakers are “actually comfortable with a system of a political apartheid,” Holder added.

In a lighter moment during the gathering, Affleck heaped praise on Clinton, calling her an “extraordinary person” and a “wonderful role model.”

“I hope somebody recorded that introduction,” Clinton quipped. “Because you know, when days are hard, I’m just gonna listen to it again.”

[From The Hill]

“Political apartheid” is an evocative term, but I think it’s apt. That is what’s happening, especially in deeply-red states and states like Texas. States like Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia have huge Black populations, but those populations are gerrymandered into political insignificance so as not to disrupt “the white vote.” The congressional districts in my state, Virginia, are gerrymandered to hell and back too and it’s not just a Southern problem. The thing is, the Roberts SCOTUS has already chipped away at the federal government’s ability to step in when states are disenfranchising communities of color. That’s why gerrymandering is still such a huge issue, because SCOTUS gutted those protections. Affleck is right – it will lead to even more extremists being elected to Congress.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez shop at Zara clothing store in LA

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid.

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12 Responses to “Ben Affleck: Gerrymandering incentivizes partisanship & political extremism”

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  1. Nicole says:

    After reading the headline, I’m just gonna say he’s not wrong. Affleck is a smart dude and well informed. I’m sure he’s pretty blue, but regardless, he’s a man that if he ran for office and was a surprise Republican, I would be okay if he were elected. He knows how government is supposed to function, which half the morons in America do not. The political scientist in me weeps daily. I got nothing left but throwing money at candidates and praying.

    • WithTheAmerican says:

      Same. If it takes him warning people maybe people who don’t normally hear it will finally understand the crisis.

      But I agree with Kaiser this reads suuuper boring. Use Ben to reach new people not the same people who would already tune in to hear HRC and Holder.

  2. Dee Kay says:

    Affleck is totally right. And Kaiser is also right: If Affleck and J.Lo and Bill and Hillary Clinton all sat down to talk about the ish that happened in their relationships, and to dish about relationship drama in general, I would easily no problem donate $100 to watch. Maybe more.

  3. MerlinsMom1018 says:

    Ben positioning himself for a political run, maybe?
    Having said that, he’s right. It was thoughtful and on point.
    Living in Texas (unofficial state motto: Gerrymandering R Us) I see it all the time

  4. NCWoman says:

    I think it’s less him positioning for a political run and more him bringing star power to what everyone with a brain realizes is a critical topic at a tipping point for the United States.

  5. Southern Fried says:

    Respect. Thank you for speaking up, Affleck.

  6. Plums says:

    I’m in a blue city in Texas, and it is absolutely insane. Extreme gerrymandering to create safe seats allows extremists to easily win when fair, logical representative district maps would lead to moderation and political compromise. This is how we end up with like a five percentage point difference in statewide elections for presidents and senators and a split of like 65% R and 35%D in our congressional districts. It really is absolutely killing our democracy.

  7. Monica says:

    Here we go. Affleck 2024. JLo as FLOTUS. (Not completely facetious.)

  8. Lena says:

    He was silent, unlike many, many stars during the dark Trump years which is why his coming out now for a Democratic cause ( both parties do it although it’s more a racial gerrymandering with republicans) is puzzling. He was pretty much excoriated on Twitter yesterday so I wouldn’t suggest to him he run anytime.

    • Shirley says:

      Ben has been given a free pass for his bad behavior for too long.

    • Simmons says:

      He has had a bad reputation, and everyone with eyes can see he has experienced personal and professional hell for the past 5 years. Sometimes one needs to tend their own affairs.

  9. Shirley says:

    Deep Water with Ben and Ana was just pulled from theatre release.