Tag Archives: gerrymandering

TEA Party Must Have A Say In the Redistricting Process

Bookmark and Share  After a year when millions of Americans began taking their civic responsibilities more serious than ever and joined together in the TEA Party movement in an attempt to change government for the better, it would be a shame to see that activity end after just one election cycle. It would be an even greater shame to see all that they have achieved in such a relatively small amount of time, reversed by politics as usual. Having gotten involved in the elections and having changed the results of those elections, the TEA Party has a responsibility to see their efforts through. Not only must they stay involved and keep those officials they carried to victory true to their words, they must now take the time to deepen their political involvement and effect those areas of politics which often get little attention but carry more weight than the results of just any one election cycle.

In 2011 one such area which requires their attention is the redistricting process.

This once every decade event, shapes the political landscape of every state in our nation as well as national government. It determines the districts which we elect our leaders from. Everything from City council lines to legislative districts and congressional districts are drawn. Left to their own devices, in the hands of politicians the process becomes one known as gerrymandering. It is an underhanded practice that divides communities not along geographic lines but along political lines. Left in the hands of politicians and political parties, redistricting is based on how they can draw districts that contain a majority of votes for their Party’s candidates.

This gerrymandering process undermines the electoral process. It helps determine election results before campaigns have even started by insuring that a minority of one Party and the majority of the other constitute the makeup of enough districts to elect a majority in state legislatures and the House of Representatives, thereby insuring one Party or the other, control of those legislative bodies and the legislative process.

Gerrymandering is the reason why so few seats in Congress are competitive. It is why the defeat of less than 14% of incumbent House members in 2010 was considered a political landslide. It is why out of 435 seats in the House of Representatives, only an approximate number of 100 of them were really contested. The other 335 were forgone conclusions.

This is unacceptable for those who have a vested interest in fair elections and the democratic process. This should be unacceptable to those who consider themselves a part of the TEA Party and are fed up with political games as usual and political sleights of hand. It should be intolerable to those who wish to see their elected officials elected based upon their qualifications, their beliefs and their effectiveness, not just simply their Party registration.

That is why it is important that the TEA Party not rest on their laurels for too long. They have tasted victory in 2010 but that now means that in 2011 they have a responsibility to fulfill. They can’t just effect the outcome of one election and retreat back to their less civic oriented days of casual or occasional political involvement or concern. They must continue to learn about the behind the scenes political process that cheats us all out a fair process. They must work as hard as they did to effect the elections of 2010, to now effect the process that effects those elections.

During the next few months, state legislatures across America will be begin to slice and dice the political maps. In the vast majority of states, the process is run and determined by each state’s upper and lower houses of the legislature and the Governor. For some states that means one Part is in total control of the process. In other states it means that Republicans and Democrats are both involved in hammering the new district lines together. But even in those cases, political deals are cut in order to save one legislator other.

That is why the very next mission of the TEA Party must be to interject itself in to the redistricting process. They must educate themselves about the process, establish their own suggested guidelines in drawing the new district lines and demand that those guidelines are heard and applied, fairly and properly.

In New Jersey, thanks in large part to Assemblyman Jay Webber, the Chairman of the Republican Delegation to the New Jersey redistricting Commission, at least four public hearing swill be held in order to get the publics input on the redistricting process. It is an opportunity which we she seek more of and must take advantage of.

Those hearing are currently scheduled as follows;

  • Wednesday, January 12 6 pm Rutgers Law School, Newark
  • Thursday, January 13 6 pm Hudson County Community College, Jersey City
  • Tuesday, January 18 6 pm Rowan University, Glassboro
  • Thursday, January 20 6 pm Ocean County Administration Building, Toms River
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THE NEXT 2 YEARS COULD BE CRITICAL FOR REPUBLICANS

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The GOP is literally at a make or break point that could a establish a fait accompli   

As we enter into the closing year of the new millennium’s first decade, the approaching official national census process is where some, if not a large portion of the battle for our political future will take place.

After the census has been taken in 2010, every legislative district from which we elect council members in local and city governments to state legislators and members of congress will be redrawn based upon the population shifts determined by the census.

This means that once those figures have been established, during 2010, state legislatures will spend the following year redrawing new legislative districts.

Despite laws that try to regulate how legislative maps can be drawn and try to eliminate gerrymandering, redistricting is primarily a political process that is left up to the political party or parties with majority control at the time that redistricting occurs. That said, the powers that be use their majority status to creatively draw new legislative districts that favor their party. A handful of states have separatecommissions that draw the district lines.  Some of those grant veto to the states governors and some don’t.  But regardless, even those commissions, involved in those 6 or states, contain a degree of politcal leanings.

In either event, by using a range of election results from over the last 8 years or so, party leaders establish where their favorable votes come from. Using that as their basis, they draw districts that contain a plurality of population centers that favor their party.

This allows the majority political party to substantially consolidate power by creating new election districts that are likely to send more of their kind to their county seats and state capitols as well as those who we send to congress.

Regardless of the laws that are designed to take political influence out of the redistricting process and despite the various state redistricting commissions that are set up to oversee the process, it is an entirely political process. You must understand that the politicians create the new districts maps themselves or appoint the redistricting commissions regulating the process. Even when the courts have to step in, it remains a political process…….Who appoints the judges that make the rulings on this type of stuff?…..The politicians. So no matter what, it is a fact that the redistricting process is a political process. To pretend it isn’t, is a demonstration of naiveté that should prohibit one from even discussing politics. The only arguable point may be the varying degree of politicization that the process holds for one state or another.

Keeping that in mind, in one sense the census will, or could benefit, Republicans on the national level.  Having the majority in various state legislatures is key though. 

Areas such as the Northeast will see a decreased sizes in population. That will result in several Northeastern states losing congressional seats. The region has practically no congressional Republicans left. Connecticut’s Chris Shays was one of the last few holdouts and his overreaching attempts to appeal to  Democrat by essentially voting like a Democrat didn’t hack it. Republicans did not like his trying to be a liberal and liberals did not find him liberal enough so he’s out.

But the loss of seats through redistricting in the Northeast, where Republicans don’t have many seats, will favor Republicans where they are still strong….the South and West.

The census will show a strong increase in Southern population and so will the West. That means the representation lost in places like New Jersey and New York will be added to places like Florida and California, where the increased population will get increased representation. Except for California that bodes well for Republicans, but not in and of itself.

The party in power of each individual state legislature will ultimately determine the final redistricting maps. The party in charge at the time will create new districts that favor themselves and increases their own pluralities in their state capitol. They will do the same with their own states congressional delegation to washington, DC, as they draw congressional districts that favor their party as well.

So that means, if, for example, New Jersey has A Democrat Governor and a Democrat majority in the state senate and the state assembly, which they do now, Democrats will make their existing state legislative districts more favorable to electing Democrats. They will also draw congressional districts that are inclined to do the same. In fact, with the possible loss of one seat due to relatively decreased population growth, the Democrat dominated state legislature would probably emaciate one of the rare congressional districts that Republicans have held, forever, in Northern New Jersey. In the recent 2008 election, incumbent Republican Congressman Mike Fergusson retired and his seat was won by a Republican state senator named Leonard Lance. After redistricting, he and his seat will probably be gerrymandered out of existence.

This all points to the following .

  • The GOP Must Act Quickly

We need to select a Republican National Chairman who has a vision of inclusiveness and a passionate command of the issues and ideological fervor that is rooted in the conservative foundation that has always been the basis of our most productive legislative sessions and our most successful election cycles. That person must also have the capacity for exceptional organizational development and cutting edge thinking that can exploit the internet and the grassroots. The new chairman must also be willing to act quickly and accept the fact that we need to prepare for the redistricting process that begins in 2010.  Any loss of time leading up to 2010 will wreak havoc on our prospects for the decade to follow. (Newt…..are you reading this?)

  • A Bottom Up Strategy

The new Republican National Committee Chairman must immediately focus on and direct all resources to local and state legislative elections. This may sound out of place for the “national” committee, however, by the time the end of 2010 rolls around, it is the state level which will strongly effect our national prospects in the redistricting process that occurs at the start of the next decade.  By electing more officials on the bottom of the ballot, in stste elections, we will be better able to effect races further up the ballot.

By spending the next two years establishing strong candidates to run strong campaigns for state senate and assembly seats, we will increase control of the state legislative bodies that are ultimately responsible for the redistricting that they will undertake after the 2010 census results. With that power and opportunity we will be able to draw new congressional districts that are favorable for increasing Republican pluralities in the newly drawn seats that will be up for grabs in 2012.

Without control of the redistricting process Democrats will have the opportunity to gerrymander more Republicans out of office and make it even harder to get elected into office . That will only make the decade to come more difficult for us to increase our state legislative and congressional prospects.

The new chairman of the RNC, whoever it may be, better be willing to utilize the little time we have between now and then wisely. The once every decade redistricting process that the new chairman should prepare us for could have more of an effect on GOP prospects and our regaining majority status in congress than any of the elections that will follow

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GOOD ANSWERS

I guess I would have voted with the majority if it was a close vote. But I agree with the arguments the minority made.
–President Bill Clinton, on the 1991 Gulf War resolution

“I’m not going to have some reporters pawing through our papers. We are the president.”
–Hillary Clinton commenting on the release of subpoenaed documents

I haven’t committed a crime. What I did was fail to comply with the law.
–David Dinkins, New York City Mayor, answering accusations that he failed to pay his taxes.

Things are more like they are now than they ever were before.
–Former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower

The streets are safe in Philadelphia. It’s only the people who make them unsafe.
–Frank Rizzo, ex-police chief and mayor of Philadelphia

I have lied in good faith.
— Bernard Tapie, French politician accused of fixing a soccar match involving the team he owned, when his sworn alibi fell apart in court.

I don’t need bodyguards.
–Jimmy Hoffa, labor leader

Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.
–Mayor Marion Barry, Washington, DC

The police are not here to create disorder. They’re here to preserve disorder.”
–Former Chicago mayor Daley during the infamous 1968 Democratic Party convention

China is a big country, inhabited by many Chinese.
–Former French President Charles de Gaulle

 

 

 

 

 

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