Gerrymandering is a hell of a drug, y’all. Earlier this week, the Texas Legislature released its first proposed draft of the state’s new congressional maps — and, needless to say, the Republican-dominated body wasn’t shy about its intentions. In an effort to dilute the voting power of heavily Democratic metropolises like Houston, Dallas, and Austin, the prospective district lines criss-cross, squiggle around, and snake through blue-voting communities with expert precision.
The exercise is as diabolical as it is obvious. In concocting these maps, which are flush with some of the most ridiculously shaped districts you’ll find in politics, Republicans are laying bare their plan to consolidate their power by systematically stifling their opponents’ voices and voting power. Below, we’ve selected (and named!) the eight most outrageous examples of these efforts.
District 33: The Rorschach Test
District 33 is a work of art. Slipping, sliding, and squeezing its way throughout the western portion of Dallas and the eastern side of Fort Worth, the region is the easiest (and best) example of how blatant Republicans’ gerrymandering efforts have become. Its shape may appear abstract at first; but like the famed Rorschach test, District 33 must be used as a tool to examine conservatives’ personality characteristics and emotional functioning. And it’s clear their thirst for power and disregard for basic democratic processes have reached dangerous levels.
District 37: The Aged Greaser
A new district springing from the 2020 census, District 37 looks to be an overwhelming Democratic region that Republicans will use to flush away thousands of blue votes. Save for pieces of District 21 (which belongs to Ted Cruz’s personal lapdog, Chip Roy) and District 10, this district consumes most of the Austin area. It also resembles a hard-living man who’s keeping the Danny Zuko look alive.
District 18: The Whig
Picturing this one requires little imagination. Located in Harris County, District 18 surrounds the perimeter of Houston’s northernmost reaches, including swallowing up the upper portion of District 29. See for yourself: It looks a hell of a lot like a whig — albeit, a ragged one — atop someone’s head. More importantly, it pits two current Democratic Reps, Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green, against one another.
District 38: The Praying Parishioner
There’s no telling why, but Republican gerrymandering just looks a little more lifelike in Harris County. Lying alongside District 18, the newly formed 38th is expected to further conservative’s majority in the state. Beyond looking an awful lot like someone who is down on their knees and praying, the district embodies Abbott & Co.’s ruthless targeting of the Houston area — where new district lines will reportedly impact more than one million voters.
District 10: The Land Bridge
No surprise here, but Texas Republicans made sure to do Rep. Michael McCaul (better known as the $100 Million Man) a solid when redrawing his region’s lines. After spanning several rural counties between Austin and Houston, District 10 follows the tiniest of land bridges to sneak into the western half of Travis County — including West Austin, the uber-rich area where the congressman uses millions of gallons of water annually to keep his hillside home lavish and vibrant.
District 35: The Iguana
Similarly to District 37, District 35 will be a Democratic dumping ground. In addition to deep blue regions of East Austin and eastern Travis County, the district will run along I-35 through San Marcos and into San Antonio. See for yourself: It’s shaped like an iguana whose tail tracks all the way into the Alamo City.
District 6: Up in Smoke
Beginning just north of McLennan County (where Waco sits), District 6 looks normal enough at first glance. Six rural counties like Hill, Navarro, and Freestone encompass the majority of its geographical area. But things get weird as it approaches Tarrant and Dallas Counties, with its territory slipping through core voting blocs at the heart of the metroplex. Squint hard enough and it starts looking like a stream of smoke wafting into the air.
District 4: The Elephant’s Trunk
Take a good look and you can see it: With its Texas-Oklahoma border counties and expansive push into Rockwall County, District 4 might as well be the mascot for the Republican Party. Another name option here is the fish hook, since its southwestern portion slips down into Collin County’s piece of the DFW Metroplex to scoop up a share of the increasingly Democratic-leaning region.