Tuesday, February 12

The Shortest Distance to Power is Not a Straight Line


By Art Cashin

On this day (-1) in 1812, Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts was asked to arbitrate an important matter in the new nation.

Who better could you want? Gerry had signed the Declaration of Independence, been part of the Constitutional Convention and served as a member of Congress, before becoming Governor of Massachusetts.

As a father of our country, Gerry was asked to determine the lines of reapportionment for the State's senatorial delegation. He proceeded to draw a group of crooked lines that made a random walk look like a moonshot.

Amazingly, these squiggles happened to coincide with the strong points of Gerry's party. And a new word entered the language - Gerrymander - meaning to abuse your power in order to enhance the election chances of your friends and yourself. In the American tradition of justice, Gerry was punished by being elected the Vice President of the United States under James Madison one-year later.

Luckily for the nation no person known to do anything crooked or even to show favoritism to his friends was ever sent to the White House again.


Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.

1 comment:

  1. A timely post: the current skullduggery by the GOP to take advantage of our current oddly shaped Congressional districts may in the end spell the doom of the Electoral Collage. And none too soon if my opinion were of any account.

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