The United States has changed so much in the past decade. The election victory of President Barack Obama in 2008 started a chain reaction behind the scenes by Republicans to keep a stranglehold on their quality of life. It’s no coincidence that the election of the first African-American president, and in 2011, for the first time in the history of the US, there were more non-white babies born than white children. The reports that there will be “minority white” by 2045 are real. So, is it any surprise that a racist president was elected, who triggered a deep-seated hatred by lighting a match under middle class white America? The “white-power” graffiti across America, the neo-Nazi protest in Blacksburg, Virginia, and the staggering amount of unjustified race-related tweets by the former President has been a white Republican response of losing grip on a diverse and growing population. One of those tactics snuffed out was gerrymandering, a highly controversial method of redrawing lines and not just the ethical ones.
Written by M.N. Miller
Slay the Dragon is a documentary that naturally will cause the most liberal to be outraged and the most conservative to give themselves a pat on the back. The controversial and hot-button topic of gerrymandering, the manipulation of boundaries of an electoral constituency to favor one party or class, was highlighted after Donald Trump’s unprecedented 2016 election upset. While everyone was pondering a Russian conspiracy on how the election was rigged, that diverted attention from the manipulation that had a direct effect on the GOP’s win in 2016. The result gave the Republican Party 33 legislatures and 33 governorships that doubled the number of democrats.
Here is an example - watching a sagging Republican population in Philadelphia, the GOP took advantage and redrew the lines. A well-known district in Philadelphia was redrawn westward to collect more conservative votes. By doing this, the democrats had a new uphill battle of their overall electoral chances by shifting the electoral borders all across the United States. It was a political game of Etch-A-Sketch and they had been getting away with it.
One of the most glaring incidents was the redrawing of the lines that started the Flint, Michigan water crisis. Outlined in the film, the result was a no repeal that had the financial manager make the switch to a cheaper water system with no one to hold them accountable. Of course, it turned out to be contaminated in a town that was already under socioeconomic depression.
The grassroots efforts by Katie Fahey to stop an effort to undermine democracy is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Her organization, Voters Not Politicians, led to partisan gerrymandering in the state of Michigan. She made history, and that is usually by the first-timers (as did Emma Thompson in Primary Colors).
Directors Chris Durrance (producer of several American Experience and Frontline features) and Barak Goodman (Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation) have crafted a defining film about grassroots politics and advocacy. It validates what Margaret Read said that “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world” because it is the only thing that has. Slay the Dragon is a searing look at the redrawing of voting lines by erasing the ethical ones.