And Voters Will Be the Ones Getting Screwed
Regular readers of this blog know that redistricting is an issue I’m very interested in. In fact, I’ve written pretty extensively about the issue as it took place here in Memphis. That process was completed just two days before the filing deadline, and moved several potential candidates out of the districts they planned to run in. The end result was less choice, and the return of all incumbents. It’s hard enough to unseat an incumbent as a challenger. It’s much harder to do it when the process stacks the cards against you.
After experiencing the process here in Memphis, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the process in Nashville is just as closed. In fact, there’s been quite a few articles in the statewide press about redistricting, and more specifically, who’s losing in the process.
From my perspective, the voters are losing. I wasn’t here for the 2000 redistricting process, but I can look up some votes, and it looks pretty damn close to unanimous.
Yesterday in the Commercial Appeal State Senator Jim Kyle took up the cause of redistricting and shed some light on the way the process has been handled in the past, as opposed to how its being handled right now. Oh what a difference a decade makes.
According to Ballotopedia 62% of all the redistricting at the state level has been submitted or voted on at this point. At this rate it could be as high as 75% by the end of the year. 28 states have pending lawsuits. Some are planning to beat the lawsuits to the punch by just going to court in the first place.
In Tennessee, while there’s been all kinds of talk about transparency, there hasn’t really been any, despite the technology to do so. This is a winners/spoils situation, and everyone knows it.
So far the only folks that have seen any maps are select members of their respective bodies. Based on those few revelations the Tennessee Black Caucus is readying a lawsuit. Of course, just like here in Memphis, the guys up in Nashville, one of whom is Swervey Curry Todd, they’ll hold that pair of 8’s as close to their vest as long as possible hoping everyone else will fold.
For me, this isn’t about partisanship. There are plenty of Democrats on the Memphis City Council that heard my displeasure at the way they handled their situation. There are plenty of Democrats on the County Commission that will hear my displeasure if they don’t get the process right. Same standard goes for the state legislature, even though they’re controlled by Republicans.
While the majority of the public may not be all that interested in how the sausage is made, there are a whole bunch of us that are paying attention and want to see not only how its made but what kind it is. Right now the majority is wielding the power of redistricting as a weapon against anyone that might stand in their way, something they most certainly have the political power to do…for now.
I don’t have any real illusions that the GOP majority will come around to the idea of transparency. I don’t really think they give a damn about it.
So while the GOP plays make the sausage and hide the salami, the rest of us can take comfort in the fact that all of this will likely end up in court, John Ryder or no, and hopefully in time to correct the mess this opaque process will create.