Why is the Texas redistricting process such a mess?
The answer is not simple, except for the fact that these redistricting wars are at the foundation for the political control of the state. Some folks see them as a way of increasing the representation of minority groups in Austin. Others see the wars as a “states’ rights” issue going back to the days of reconstruction. The basic reason that these wars — yes this is the best way to describe them — are so contentious is that increasingly they represent a major threat to the political status quo.
The general public doesn’t understand the importance of redistricting but the big law firms, energy, financial, and agricultural interests of the state do.
Yup, the redistricting wars are so bitterly fought because the old Texas establishment sees the current redistricting process as a major threat to their ability to control the state’s public policy process for the next 10 years. The soiled masses are fighting for representation and the monied interests are afraid that new representation may result in more democratic, notice the little “d”, decision making in all areas of state law — including education, public health, and the environment, among others.
Monied interests are afraid of not just losing control, they are afraid of the arrival of transparency in the decision making process.
The Attorney General, who does not simply represent Texas but also all the powers that be in the state, is pulling out all stops to try and insure that the monied and special interests maintain majority voting margins in the state senate, house and the Texas Congressional delegation. The General, as Greg Abbott is formally known, is being thwarted, however, by Mother Nature in the form of a growing Latino population and in some areas growing Asian populations.
Frankly, the General and his monied interested clients are going about these wars all wrong.
Instead of trying to integrate Latinos, African Americans and Asians into his cause, he wants to do everything in his power to exclude racial minority groups from the political processes and bring the apparatus of government to a complete standstill by doing everything in his power to prevent elections from occurring. He appears to be losing in the judicial system because the law is fundamentally against the methods his gerrymanderers have been using in drawing all the representational lines. The legal briefs accuse the district and the DC Circuit Courts of violating the same voting rights principles he’s defending for the State of Texas. I’ve said this time and time again — I’m no lawyer or judge — but any fairly well educated person reading the state’s briefs have to wonder about the state’s allegations in several places.
For instance, that the state accused the district court of drawing an interim plan that increased minority voting populations in some congressional districts by picking and choosing high turnout Latino precincts to include in the districts and exclude low performing Latino districts. I thought that was the exact opposite of what the state is being accused of? So, the state is accusing the courts of doing what the state did, except in reverse? Does this mean the state knew all along that it was using race to achieve a political end?
Just a thought, let’s let the lawyers fight that one out.
[Photo By Patrick Hosely]