14 March 2011

Making a Mockery of Non-Partisan Redistricting

In compliance with the US Constitution, there is a decennial census to determine apportionment of Congressional representatives.   The re-apportionment process often becomes partisan and victors receive the spoils, even if the gerrymandered districts look like surreal ink spots. Computers have allowed psephologists to create precise yet grotesquely drawn districts that protect most incumbents and favors a dominant majority party in a state.  Lawfare can thwart Republican efforts to assert their strength in redistricting, as was evidence during the 1990 apportionment.

There has been a trend lately to establish non-partisan commissions to recommend redistricting plans.  This appeals to many independents who seek good governance through a supposed non-partisan process.  In fact, California voters approved Proposition 20--a Fair Districting initiative, and the California peoples' will may even be respected by the Judicial Branch.

In the abstract, a non-partisan redistricting process sounds wonderful.  But the devil is in the details.  And academic insiders are betting that the public will not pay attention to the details this far out from November 2012. Witness what went on in Virginia.

National Review  reports that a draft plan by George Mason University Professor Michael McDonald on behalf of the supposedly “Bipartisan” Advisory Commission on Redistricting recommended carving out Republican Majority Leader Representative Eric Cantor’s (R-VA 7th) district.  That is strange, as Virginia will not be losing any members due to redistricting. Amongst the thousands of plans to choose from, the Commission’s backup plan drew out long time Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA 10th), Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA 4th) and newcomer Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA 9th) who defeated long time incumbent Rick Boucher (D-VA 9th).  These suggestions are coming in the wake of an 18% landslide victory of Gov. Bob McDonnell in 2009 and the defeat of 3 Virginia Democrat during the 2010 cycle.

Even mere mortals do not need the Professor Larry Sabato’s crystal ball to know how skewed are those suggestions.  But in case there was any doubt about the partisan hack trick, Professor McDonald’s first Powerpoint side thanked the ├╝ber left wing Brennan Center for Justice for its assistance.  The Brennen Center pushed the propaganda that voter fraud is a myth and that the major motivation of Voter ID checks is to suppress the minority vote.

Because the Virginia Assembly majorities are split between the two chambers so neither party is likely to get exactly what they want.  Analysis from the Washington Post expects that due to population shifts to Northern Virginia, Rep. Gerry Connelly (D-VA 11th) who won by less than 1000 votes in 2010 and Rep. Wolf will be drawn into safer districts.

Since this independent Redistricting Commission is only advisory, it would be wise for Gov. McDonnell to put the skewed Commission’s plans into the circular file and let the General Assembly duke it out while in Special Session to decide redistricting.

May this escapade be a lesson to those who yearn for less partisanship in politics that faceless functionaries and bureaucrats do not necessarily act for good governance reasons act as partisan without electoral consequences. We live in a democratic Republic where we hold our representatives responsible for their actions not a bureaucracy manipulated by partisan jackasses.

H/T: National Review
H/T: Washington Post

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