Revived as Curtis Yarvin, the artist formerly known as “Mencius Moldbug” wrote last month that:
“All serious people know there are no real conspiracies — nobody’s perfect, but in just about everything the experts are just the experts.
Which is just the story you’d expect in any really first-class reality dome. No one is above stage magic, not even magicians themselves.”
While a tough pill to swallow sometimes, especially for right-wingers who are almost constitutionally pre-disposed to checking the underside of buttered toast for conspiracies, this seems mostly true. The experts are just the experts, and they are annoying but mostly harmless when they do things like organize the local vegan insomniacs to sit-in around a butcher’s shop and shout “MEAT IS MURDER.” When they are appointed as “special master” by Federal Courts to re-draw the electoral map of a state on the other side of the country from where they work, it is hard not to raise an eyebrow.
That is exactly what happened in Virginia though, when a federal court ruled last year that Dr. Bernard Grofman could re-draw the Virginia legislative districts however he liked. Grofman is a professor at the University of California-Irvine, whose degrees in Mathematics (1966) and his MA (1968) and PhD (1972) in Political Science all came from that heralded Virginia institution, the University of Chicago.
Grofman is an expert of sorts. An old New Left campaigner from the halcyon days of “The Sixties,” he is cut from the same cloth as civil rights attorney and would-be Atticus Finch, Doug Jones, who was the left wing darling of the last Alabama senate race. Grofman though, eschewed the limelight, and recognizing that the “revolution” could be furthered more effectively by becoming an “expert” in voting patterns– he wrote books, including Quiet Revolution in the South: The Impact of the Voting Rights Act, 1965-1990, Legacies of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and A Unified Theory of Voting. And he waited. When the grand “March Through The Institutions,” yielded such an overwhelming majority of left-wingers in unassailable positions within the American state (like, say, the federal courts), Dr. Grofman was positioned perfectly to vanquish conservatism in Virginia. While the experts are usually just the experts, sometimes they are also the Cathedral’s heavy cavalry.
His moment came in 2018 when a federal court ruled eleven districts in Virginia’s lower house were products of racial gerrymandering. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Last year, the court ruled that 11 House districts were unconstitutional, finding that lawmakers improperly prioritized race to draw African-American voters into majority-minority districts. The court gave the General Assembly a chance to redraw the map last fall, but it became clear the Republican House and Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam could not agree on a plan.
Grofman was positioned in the wings as a ringer. The lynchpin of the basis for the Virginia Court’s ruling was “racial dilution,” rather than partisan dilution. The latter, even Grofman admits, is a hard nut to crack, but in Southern states, where party lines largely fall along racial lines, it was “go time”. Republicans in Virginia alleged that Grofman’s map was drawn explicitly in favor of partisan Democrat interests, but courts are reluctant to uphold that charge and this court was never gonna hear it. The claim was rejected in a 2-1 ruling by federal justices Barbara Milano Keenan (born in Austria, appointed by Barack Obama), and Arenda Wright Allen (Born in Philadelphia, appointed by Barack Obama).
The judges wrote “nothing in the record suggests that Dr. Grofman acted with animus toward any incumbents, or toward any party.” As the plaintiffs case was made, this might be true. But there was a better approach.
Dr. Grofman, grand architect of the new Virginia electoral map, in addition to many books, has also written many articles for various academic publications, including one for the North Carolina Law Review in 2001, entitled “Drawing Effective Minority Districts: A Conceptual Framework and Some Empirical Evidence,” with some very revealing passages. Its abstract advertises that “In this Article, three political scientists provide a conceptual framework for predicting minority electoral success,” and Grofman proudly splashes his name up at the top as the lead author.
The link should take any intrepid readers straight to the beast, but it gets sort of thorny. At the heart of the observations made by Grofman and his conspirators though, are some 1982 re-districting regulations that mandate any new district map to “prove” it will not inhibit “protected” classes from casting more votes. To prove this, a bunch of experts like Dr. Grofman draw up theoretical predictions of the voting patterns and decide whether their evidence indicates more or fewer minority votes will be cast– and crucially according to Dr. Grofman himself, whether more “minority preferred” candidates will be elected. What is a “minority-preferred” candidate? Let’s ask the experts!
“Defining which candidates should qualify as “minority preferred” is a question the courts are still grappling with, but for the purposes of this Article, we have assumed that minority voters cannot be said to have a truly equal opportunity to elect if only their favorite white candidates can be elected to office.’
Bernard Grofman, Lisa Handley & David Lublin, “Drawing Effective Minority Districts: A Conceptual Framework and Some Empirical Evidence,” 79 N.C. L. Rev. 1383 (2001). p. 1386.
The “conceptual framework” of this paper is of course, very elegant in light of the challenges to Grofman’s map mounted by Virginia Republicans. At no point in Dr. Grofman’s nefarious scheme does he outline any specific plan to marginalize Republican votes. He goes straight into territory the Republican party will not follow him by outright suggesting that “effective” minority districts are judged based on their ability to elect non-white persons to office. If those non-white persons just happen to be Democrats, well that is the Virginia GOP’s problem now isn’t it!
The real damage done here, vis a vis those 1982 regulations is that now that Dr. Grofman has succeeded in creating a number of more effective minority voting districts in Virginia, federal law explicitly prevents that “progress” from ever being rolled back on the basis of any argument anyone in the GOP is willing to make. Dr. Grofman, along with two Obama appointed judges just wrested control of the Virginia legislature away from conservatives forever, and there is not a thing they will do about it.
And at the end of the day, Moldbug is right. It wasn’t a conspiracy. It was all done in plain sight, where anyone could stumble along and with the right Google keywords, predict exactly what was going to happen. The experts after all, are the experts.