Well, it’s official— and let the bloodbath begin.
Texas has been growing (this we knew), but by enough to mean that we will get 4 new Congressional seats. Much of our growth has been occurring in suburbs and exurbs, and we’ve been losing relative population in rural areas, so it will be interesting to see how our Congressional and Legislative seats are reapportioned.
How these district lines will be drawn are now up to the Legislature, who will draw the maps that they, themselves, will run in. Obviously, this creates a serious conflict of interest, as instead of having voters choose their representatives, we have representatives choosing their voters.
Some have guessed that the sudden party switch of the now-tilde-less Rep. Aaron Pena may be due to his desire to run for Congress– getting a seat at the table to carve up a custom-made Congressional seat would certainly make that tempting. And this is exactly the kind of problem that we have when Legislators draw their own districts.
Given Texas’ troubled history with redistricting, including but not limited to the illegal redistricting plan forced through the Lege by Tom DeLay and the subsequent flight of Democratic lawmakers to Oklahoma, it is time for Texas to do the right thing and move to a system of independent redistricting.
Many states have adopted this vital reform, and Texas has considered this before, including bills in the last Legislative session by Rep. Mark Strama, a Democrat, and Senator Jeff Wentworth, a Republican.
The problem is, partisan politics is getting in the way of what is a bipartisan-supported reform measure. Neither party wants to give up the possibility of being able to control redistricting, as Democrats believe demographic changes are moving in their favor, and Republicans think they can maintain control over a traditionally conservative state. As to who is right and who is wrong, I don’t care. But both parties need to be less like the partisan animals they so often can be, and more like Frodo. (please forgive my nerd birdwalk here, but it illustrates an important point)
Frodo didn’t want to get rid of the ring of power, and it corrupted him, but he needed to get rid of it. Unfortunately, when faced with the choice and standing at the precipice, he failed to make the right choice. He had to have the ring forcibly taken from him, and cast into the fire. I hate to compare “the people” to Gollum, but that’s what we have to do– bit the ring of power off of our leaders’ fingers and destroy it forever, so they can deal with more important issues, like, oh, say, $20-$25 billion dollar deficits and such.
Whatever bloodletting occurs over the upcoming redistricting fight (and there will be a fight), it ought to be accompanied by a bipartisan support for an independent, non-partisan redistricting plan.
And for a little bit more fun: