The Republican Party is in control of both the House and Senate, and the redrawing of Congressional districts is one of the tools that led America to its current fate. The Atlantic follows Tom Hoffeler, a Republican consultant responsible for the bulk work of the redistricting strategy.
Following the coincidence of the 2010 Census and the GOP's gain of the House, their ability to redraw the boundaries of where districts lie allowed them to cherrypick constituencies, setting up a domino effect which has crashed this year and will likely reverberate through years to come. The gerrymandering of districts sits at an uncomfortable intersection of racial politics, classism, and politics as blood sport, with the Democrats' efforts to stall redistricting and make attempts of their own paling in comparison.
The creation of a new congressional district, or the loss of an old one, affects every district around it, necessitating new maps. Even states not adding or losing congressional representatives need new district maps that reflect the population shifts within their borders, so that residents are equally represented no matter where they live. This ritual carving and paring of the United States into 435 sovereign units, known as redistricting, was intended by the Framers solely to keep democracy’s electoral scales balanced. Instead, redistricting today has become the most insidious practice in American politics—a way, as the opportunistic machinations following the 2010 census make evident, for our elected leaders to entrench themselves in 435 impregnable garrisons from which they can maintain political power while avoiding demographic realities.
For the past four decades, it is what Tom Hofeller has done for a living.
Hofeller maintains an office at the Republican National Committee on Capitol Hill, though he is now the RNC’s paid consultant rather than, as in years past, its official redistricting director. At 69, he is a professorial if somewhat impish fellow (in his early days, a California House speaker dubbed him “the kid with the shit-eating grin”) who is more than content not to be a household name. His after-hours life includes singing tenor in his church choir and reading multitudes of books that seldom have anything to do with politics. Hofeller’s earliest clients included Democrats, and today he describes himself as a moderate Republican. The adjective is irrelevant, however. His chosen field is, according to Georgia Congressman and House Republican redistricting vice chair Lynn Westmoreland, “the nastiest form of politics that there is”: Tom Hofeller’s objective is to design wombs for his team and tombs for the other guys.