Sucks for Us, but Not Unfair

The Republicans in the State Legislature have revealed their new proposals for House districts and just like I said a million years ago–if they look like they make sense, it’s going to be very, very difficult to get the general public worked up about them. And I have to say, in general, they look like they make sense. Could I quibble about some of the boundaries? Sure. But do the districts look like coherent blobs? Yes.

And here’s the truth. No one is losing “their” district. That’s not how this is supposed to work. You’re not the king or queen of your district, overseeing your serfs who you expect to vote for you. Those districts, like everything else in government, belongs to the People. Go convince the voters to vote for you.

I also hope preliminary reports of Democrats complaining that there were no women involved in the redistricting process are untrue both because there were Republican women involved in the process and, holy shit, Dems–where are your fucking women?! Heal thyself, Physician/Democratic Party.

The Democratic party is going to have to get a lot better on women’s issues before I want to hear word one from them about sexism.

So, do the new districts suck for Democrats? Yes. But what is the solution that respects our form of government? The voters put Republicans in charge. If you’re not seeing proof they’re splitting up voting communities–like splitting black neighborhoods to keep them from having black representatives–then it’s just our tough luck that they’re changing districts.

In other words, I’ll be outraged if they’re fucking over voters. If they’re just fucking over politicians, that seems to me to be a painful, but predictable result of the last election. I can’t get that worked up about it. We’re not owed Democratic districts and if the Party doesn’t have a plan for motivating new voters, that’s our problem, not Republicans’.

Edited to add: It’s hard to tell from this PDF, but the State Senate districts also look like they make sense at a glance. Again, will be very hard to convince voters that something wrong or unfair has happened, when they look at these.

26 thoughts on “Sucks for Us, but Not Unfair

  1. The funny thing is that the GOP did pretty well with the districts that were as built and in place running back about 7 human generations.

    (Related: I ran into Jim Cooper the other night at Ginza but thought better of asking him about his post-federal-employment plans.)

  2. Andy,

    Cooper will be fine. 7-2 is the best Congressional split the Republicans can hope for.

    But, just in case, there is a safe Democratic congressional seat in Memphis if Cooper were redistricted out in the 5th.

  3. Down here, we knew they were targeting Kyle, and that is reflected in his pairing with Kelsey. While he has an uphill battle, if he decides to take on Kelsey, it WILL get ugly.

    VERY ugly.

  4. I think people in the new proposed 20 will feel like they have a lot in common. 19 and 21 are hilarious, but seems to be trying to preserve/create a majority minority district. Do you think they could have gotten two majority minority districts by drawing the line at roughly 40/440? That’ll be challenged in court if they’ve drawn such screwy lines to keep one district mostly white and the other mostly minority.

  5. Can anyone translate those maps for us folks who don’t read highway? I can’t tell where any part of 19, 20, and 21 are supposed to begin or end.

  6. Thanks, B. That’s somewhat clearer, but I still can’t figure out which district it would put me into. Those zigs sure zag.

  7. Aunt B.,

    How do you get two majority minority districts in Davidson County? Even a generous reading of the demographics would show no more than 35% minority populations in the county. In this case, there is no legal requirement for two majority minority Senate districts in Davidson County.

  8. No, Mark. Look at the census numbers. Nashville is 60% white, 30% black, and 10% Hispanic. It’s split now into three districts. 20 is almost completely white. So, that’s almost half of the white people. Leaving two districts to split up the 27% whites (assuming 33% of the whites are in 20), 30% blacks and 10 % Hispanics left.

    Making one of those districts majority white and the other majority minority instead of letting them both be majority minority could be a legal issue for the courts under the voting rights act. A judge may rule that it’s fine. But let’s not be all “there’s no legal requirement.” Please. If the demographics would appear to give you two majority minority districts and you rig it to get one majority minority and one white, you’re going to have legal problems.

    These are the House districts, btw.

  9. Aunt B.,

    19, 20 and 21 are Senate districts.

    If the redistricting did result in two majority minority districts with the percentages you suggest, there is a real possibility that neither would elect a minority Senator. Since white Democrats in Davidson County have a tradition of not nominating, much less voting, for minority Democrats against white Democrats, that could be seen as in effect deprive minorities of a winnable seat.

    Now there is a possibility that the two districts would qualify as ‘minority influenced’ which meant that they would reflect minority voter interests more heavily than simple majority majority districts. But if Republicans were to draw two districts without assuring that one would elect a minority Senator, as there is now, that would be hard to defend.

  10. Oops. My bad. Here’s the House map.

    Click to access DavidsonCounty010412.pdf

    Mark, recent court cases I think suggest otherwise. But we’ll see. Maybe Mark Mays will come by and give us a lawyer’s perspective.

    I don’t believe that the courts have to take into account whether white Democrats are willing to support a black politician. They’re only, I believe, going to take into account whether lumping most of the black voters into one district when it would be plausible for them to be an enormous and influential minority in two violates the rights of black voters. I think one could make an argument that it does.

    And forget the TNDP, which does a terrible job of supporting anyone who isn’t already holding a seat. As I said in the post, this isn’t about what’s best for Democratic politicians. It’s supposed to be about what’s best for the voters–are we being fairly divided up into groups that make sense?

  11. Aunt B.,

    The Courts don’t have to take Democratic votes into consideration, which is ironic since if Democrats get 90% of black votes and a high % of Hispanic votes. If Democrats nominated more minority candidates in majority white districts, there would be no reason for mandatory majority minority districts.

    Since they don’t, the default view must be on seats actually won and not winnable seats.

  12. Default by whom? The Supreme Court in Miller v. Johnson rejected a plan in Georgia designed to create majority minority districts as gerrymandering in 1995 and then in 1996, in Bush v. Vera, it again rejected majority minority districts in Texas.

    So, like I said, it’s not clear that the court will support one majority minority district rather than two largely minority districts.

    But if you have more recent court decisions that might shed light on the legal precedents, by all means, let’s have them.

  13. Aunt B.,

    I do not presume to be a constitutional lawyer but the cases you cite all involve efforts to construct new majority minority seats using extremely broad geographical areas. In this case, my suspicion that there is no argument for creating two minority districts is that there is already a sitting minority Senator. As such, the only way to get your second district would be to make her seat less safe. I suspect Senator Harper would agree with me that a seat in the hand is worth more than two in theory.

  14. Pingback: Redistricting Maps Released | Out of the Blue

  15. Again, Mark, I don’t know how a court would decide–if someone decided to challenge it–but like you said, it’s not about protecting the seat of a sitting black senator. It’s about making sure that minority voters are not denied fair representation.

    And my point is and continues to be that it’s not at all clear from recent court cases whether the courts are convinced “we lumped all the minorities into one district to ensure they could have a minority senator” protects voting rights better than “we made two districts that make more geographic sense in which minorities make up a large and important voting block.”

    It would be very easy to argue that, in a city with three senatorial districts, rigging it so minorities only have a sizable interest in one (sizable to the point of having almost complete control if everyone votes) rather than being an enormous, influential voting block in two is not fair to minority voters and, in fact, serves to make their votes less powerful than they otherwise would be.

    Whether someone will argue that, I don’t know. But I am curious whether the courts would buy it. It seems they might.

  16. Pingback: vibinc » Blog Archive » Drawing Lines – State House and Senate Redistricting Released

  17. Pingback: Redistricting Maps Released | Out of the Blue | The Maps Blog

  18. The Adhoc Committee on Redistricting was made up of 5 white males no Females, no Blacks, And no Democrats,

  19. Representative Turner,

    How does this year differ from 1991 when 12 Republicans were placed into 6 seats? Or in 1981 when it was, I believe, 10 into 5? I don’t remember Democrats going out of their way to be fair to Republicans.

    I seem to remember Governor McWherter comparing Republicans to boll weevils in that one needed to crush them whenever you found them. It seems to me that the only difference is that the boot is on the other bug this time.

  20. Mark, I’m on Mike’s side here (kind of) and you can make me crazy but god damn, “the boot is on the other bug” is so funny I want to make you king of the internet for the day!

    What I’m saying is that, not only is it funny, it’s so funny it overcomes my biases.

    Good job.

  21. Mark , I ‘m a Son of the South but I was not around in 1860 so you can’t blame the Civil War on me. Most of us were not their in 1991 ( only 4 members 3D’s and 1R ). However I was there in 2001 and we treated the Republicans with respect and fairly, we only paired 2 incumbent Republicans and that was because of population loss in East Tennessee and someone had to be paired ( both paired Repubs voted for the plan ). The 2001 Democratic Plan received 96 votes with 2 D’s and 2 R’s voting against it,( That is the record). The Republicans keep trying to justify what there doing by bringing up 1991 they Don’t want to talk about how fair they were treated in 2001. Remember Mark the in 1991 the Republican Chairman of the Sub-Committee was 10 years Old.

  22. Representative Turner,

    With respect, the relative fairness of the 2001 redistricting seems to have been more related to fair play than to other factors. Certainly the Majority’s treatment of the Minority in House operations did not reflect any new era of good feeling. Republican legislation was still killed in Committee and similar Democratic legislation drafted and then passed. The subcommittee system was still used to kill legislation that would otherwise have passed with bipartisan support.

    In sum, it is easy for you to suggest that if the Democrats had control of the pen now, they would have invited Republicans in to draw lines that were balanced in their impact on both parties. But that is hard to accept.

    Elections have consequences and, in this case, the consequences are not in your favor. The great wheel will turn and in 2021 or 2031 or 2041 {assuming the Maya were wrong}, the Democrats will again control the pen. I won’t be complaining about your redistricting plan because that is how the system works. But I will buy you a single-malt scotch and we can debate the issue again.

  23. With respect, the relative fairness of the 2001 redistricting seems to have been less related to fair play than to other factors.

    My error. Late night.

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