The Supreme Court will not save our democracy
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The Supreme Court's decision in Gill v. Whitford is a disappointment and missed opportunity — but it is not unexpected. For decades, the Court has been hesitant to weigh in on partisan gerrymandering, and the decision affirms their decades-long stance.

More than anything, the Gill decision is a stark reminder to Democrats that they must fight back at the ballot box in statehouse races over the next two election cycles, or they risk locking themselves out of power for a decade. With redistricting just two years away, Democrats must make significant progress reclaiming the 1,000 state legislative seats they lost since 2010 or winning back the House in 2018 will mean nothing. With the current political maps, gains that Democrats make in Congress will never hold.


Republicans know this. They have all but admitted their advantage in Congress is based on a series of rigged maps. Rep. Steve Strivers (R-Ohio), the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee publicly explained that the playing field is tilted in Republicans' favor due to the last round of redistricting. It may be the only thing that saves them in November.

So, while flipping the House has become the holy grail of 2018 for good reason, it would be devastatingly shortsighted for that to be the sole focus. Democrats are more energized to vote and have held a consistent lead on the generic congressional ballot. Historically, a sitting president’s party on average loses 36 congressional seats if less-than-half the country approves of their job performance. And there are multiple paths to victory: through the 23 Republican-held districts that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary and Chelsea Clinton to host series based on their book 'Gutsy Women' Democrats see spike in turnout among Asian American, Pacific Islander voters Biden officially announces ex-Obama official Brian Deese as top economic adviser MORE won, the 21 that flipped from President Obama to Trump, or the 61 with a partisan voter index of R+8 or less.

What the Koch brothers and Republicans learned is that these individual races are less important than underlying state legislative contests. Political atmospherics change, but maps remain for a decade. In the words of Karl Rove, “He who controls redistricting can control Congress.” He’s right.

The Democratic Party doesn’t need to gerrymander districts to control Congress; they just need a level playing field to compete, with fairly constructed districts. But after losing 27 state chambers to Republicans over the past ten years, there are serious deficits for Democrats to overcome before heading into the next round of redistricting. Republicans now control 2/3 of state legislatures, and in many battleground states — those that have been ground zero in extreme partisan gerrymandering - Republicans have a stranglehold on power, controlling both chambers of the state legislature and the governor’s seat.

Today’s decision requires Democrats to face a hard truth of our political system: to ensure fair elections, you must have a seat at the table in our nation’s state capitals. To do that, you must focus on the small, often-ignored state legislative races. You must win locally. You must build a pipeline of leaders for the party, a grassroots army of community members ready to step up and run for office for the first time. Continue to only focus only on federal races, and you will continue to be disenfranchised and out of power.

The Supreme Court has told the American people they will not be saved by judicial decree. It is up to us to shine a light on the importance of state legislatures and the outsized impact they have on American democracy. The makeup of Congress for the next ten years depends on it.

David Cohen and Vicky Hausman are co-founders of Forward Majority, a Democratic super PAC.