Goofy Kicking Donald Duck. The Slithering Serpent. The Blood Splatter… all mythical soldiers of the Gerrymander, brought to life by politicians determined to protect their own interests instead of those of the voters.
As Draw the Lines prepares to launch, we invite people young and old to get involved in redistricting and have some fun while doing so. Slay the Gerrymander is the working title for an adult coloring book that will bring to life the shapes of the U.S.’s most gerrymandered congressional districts. Herb Block Foundation funds will be used to produce and distribute the coloring book.
Gerrymandering is the manipulation of legislative boundaries by politicians to advantage themselves. The term first appeared in 1812 in, of course, a political cartoon. The offender, Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry, created a district that resembled what some thought was a salamander. The term “gerrymander” was born. Its result? Less competitive districts means politicians listen to the extreme fringes of their party more than the average voter. This leads to gridlock on addressing issues voters care about. Democrats, Republicans, and independents agree that gerrymandering is the bug in the operating system of our democracy.
Slay the Gerrymander will represent 14 congressional districts as mythical monsters. Along with the images, the coloring book will present a lively primer on redistricting; each page will include action steps for how readers can battle the gerrymander in real life.
An esteemed group of six (and growing) editorial cartoonists from across the country, including several Pulitzer Prize and Herblock Prize winners, have offered their services for the coloring book, each ready to illustrate the abnormalities of their hometown congressional district’s shape. Copy will be written by Chris Satullo, a Pennsylvania civic staple for his longtime work at the Philadelphia Inquirer and NPR affiliate WHYY, and Blair Thornburgh, a young Philadelphia author, editor and Twitter hero who inspired the coloring book concept.
Slay the Gerrymander will launch via a crowdfunding campaign this fall to raise seed money for the coloring book. The coloring book is Draw the Lines’ opening salvo, both in Pennsylvania, one of nation’s most gerrymandered states, and in other states around the country that suffer that dubious distinction.