Democrats are never going to wrest control of the NC state house and senate from the Republicans unless we first do something about gerrymandering. But we can't eliminate the evil that is gerrymandering without first kicking out the Republicans. How do we resolve this paradox?
First, for those who may not be up to speed on just what gerrymandering is all about, read this piece from the Washington Post. The take-home message is that while Democrats used to engage in this form of monkeywrenching back in the days when they ran the state, the GOP has taken the practise to new heights. To compare the Dem's version of tweaking electoral boundary lines to the GOP's approach is like equating the ultra-right's embrace of white supremacy with the ultra-left's embrace of mat leave. The fact that the Republicans were so easily able to overcome the half-hearted Democratic attempts at gerrymandering is proof enough of the difference.
I wrote a bit about the subject at my Saluda-centric blog. I called that post "This is wrong" for good reason, even before the new districts had been released. The new districts just approved by our state senators and representatives are no better than the previous ones, which the courts threw out as racially based. In other words, racist. Another observer put it this way:
"the new maps are so unfair to Democrats that it would be as if the baseball team had to start every game down 6-0 and forced to bat with their non-dominant hands."
But in a way, focusing on the borders is missing the point. It's the process that's the problem as much as the specific result this time around. I'll repeat my message again here: If someone doesn’t understand why it’s wrong to skew the voting system in favor of those power, then he or she really doesn’t have any business being in power.
There's a reason why every other modern democracy ensures electoral districts are drawn by independent panels: to let anyone else do it is an affront to fairness and common decency. How we let this kind of thing go on for so long is beyond me.
So the next time you run into Cody Henson or Ralph Hise (the latter oversaw the latest redistricting process, and helped hand the assignment of drawing version 2 of the borders to the same guy who produced the racist version 1) ask why he still thinks its OK to make your vote less valuable than the votes of the people he goes bowling with.
Because the only way to resolve the problem of what should be tossed first — the GOP or gerrymandering — is to make opposition to gerrymandering a litmus test for respectability. It won't be easy to turn this wonky subject into a rallying cry, but something like: ALL VOTERS MATTER isn't that complicated.