The first speaker at yesterday’s redistricting hearings accused the Republicans of “acting like Nazis” and later speakers called them white supremacists. Fortunately, most of the other speakers, while passionate in the opposition, were more rational. But the emotions evoked by this sham of a process is real.
Duke professor Claudia Koonz likened the political discourse in North Carolina to what occurred in Germany in the 1920s and ‘30s. She did not play the “Nazi card,” but citing from her book “The Nazi Conscience” said that it was this unbridgeable divide that destroyed democracy in Germany, not Adolph Hitler. (I plan to read her book). She feared the same was happening here, now.
Many speakers rightly called this process what it is, a sham and a farce. These maps may be “less squiggly” but not substantially different than the maps ruled unconstitutional. They were clearly drawn to preserve or increase the Republican control of the General Assembly. Rep. David Lewis, committee co-chair, not only doesn’t deny this, he’s proud of it.
These maps may be “legal” but they are not just or fair.
They were released to the public only days before this hearing. The hearings were held in places designed to deliberately limit public input; most of the rooms held less than 100 people and the hearings started at a time when most people are still at work. The limited the time people had to speak and in Raleigh, in the legislative office building, even had the sergeant-at-arms threaten to remove people who applauded or reacted to any speaker. “We cannot allow that here,” he said.
It’s clear the majority party has no interest or desire to consider what the people have to say, let alone to draw fair and impartial maps. They are absolutely not interested in changing to an independent, nonpartisan redistricting process.
Lest anyone think I’m picking on Republicans, the Democrats are no better. They’ve had ample time and the resources to produce alternative maps but they have not. Instead, they preach about unfairness and suppressing the vote, and file lawsuits. As the opposition party they are worse than useless.
Democrats claim Republicans want to suppress the vote. Republicans accuse Democrats of voter fraud. But the real voter suppression, the actual voter fraud is this gerrymandering process.
The people need to take charge. The solution is simple – but radical. All Democrats and Republicans who as fed up with this farce as I am should make their voices heard in the only way your tribal party leaders will hear; change your registration to Unaffiliated. Then either run for a seat yourself or get behind some other independent voter who will.
If you’re so inclined, join the Libertarian Party, or work with the Green Party or Constitution Party.
The only way the people are going to get districts free from partisan politics and not drawn to favor any party, any candidate, any lawmaker, or any special interest group – districts which embody the ideal of one-person-one vote – is if the people draw them.