Monday, May 23, 2011

The GOP in NC & New District Voting Lines

Recently, Patrick McHenry said to Politico.com that new district lines would be drawn up now that Republicans control the General Assembly for the first time since Reconstruction. The quote that was attributed to McHenry was "It’s politically probable that there will be a new minority influence district. … It’s logical based on the demographics of our state,” What the GOP is considering is adding another district that would be minority friendly, but at the same time, redrawing other districts to insure that GOP candidates are heavily favored based on demographics of the new district.

While the GOP may think they deserve the spoils of war after having been locked out of the process for so long, this is definetly not the right way to go about it. For years, conservatives complained about "gerrymandering," the art of drawing voting districts to favor one candidate over the other based on demographics, and not true geographical, or already existing political lines such as county borders. Democrats would draw up districts to make sure that their guys had a more than likely chance of getting re-elected. Now, the GOP is up to those same tricks. New dog, same tricks.

Current ideas being tossed around are the re-drawing of Democrat G. K. Butterfield's district to include fewer minority voters in eastern North Carolina, and to move a lot of the liberal voters in Heath Shuler's Asheville area district to McHenry's more conservative friendly district. Anyone who knows anything about the geography of North Carolina knows how bad an idea this is. The district map is so bad now, it looks like a poorly designed jigsaw puzzle. McHenry's district (10) goes from the South Carolina border west of Charlotte to the Tennessee border west of Boone.



Greenville, Goldsboro, Fayetteville, Rocky Mount, New Bern, and Wilson are split between at least two districts. In the case of Rocky Mount and Fayetteville, they are split between three districts. If McHenry and his fellow Republicans learned anything over the last few years, it should have been that voters want sensible voting districts that represent their area, not an area from Edenton to Henderson, as is the case with Butterfield's district 1.

And to be perfectly honest, it's a chicken move by the GOP. It screams, "we might not succeed, but we'll be back to screw it up some more because of the voters in our district." You would only do something like this if you were afraid your policies wouldn't benefit your constituents. You're betting that the only reason you'll get voted in is you have a good fund raising base and a lot of people like your stances, successful or not. The GOP should take a stand against rigging districts like this. Be bold. Pass good, common sense policies that benefit everyone and you won't have to sweat out re-election.

The other school of thought on that is that we have already elected career-politicians. Politicians need to be made aware that they serve at the public's behest, not because they thought this would be a long-term fulfilling career. I've often said that those who want to decide how to spend the public's tax money should stay away from it. See those with degrees in public administration. Once politicians start fighting like mad to stay in office, and take a "damn the toredos" approach, it's time to get them out.

I understand McHenry and other Republicans' frustration with district voting lines. But they should learn from the mistakes of the past, not continue to repeat them. Careers be damned.
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