Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Richard Kim: GOP Relies On Racial Gerrymandering

What is the GOP's response to the demographic threat it faces? Instead of modifying their policies or attempting to appeal to broader segments of the population, the party now relies on carving out districts of white Republicans (plus voter suppression). After their electoral victories, the Republicans then pass reactionary bills. In "Fortress White America" (The Nation, 8/5/13), Richard Kim (left) describes this "precision racial gerrymandering" and the legislation that follows in North Carolina and Texas:

For the past two decades, the GOP has waged a crusade to redraw the political map so as to maximize the number of white voters in Republican-leaning districts, while lumping as many minority voters as possible into Democratic-leaning ones. The siege mentality is baked into the very DNA of the party, and it creates a perverse incentive structure in which only white voters matter. This precision racial gerrymandering has been frighteningly effective. In 2012, Democratic House candidates won 1.4 million more votes than Republicans, who nonetheless control 54 percent of the seats in that chamber. Similarly, while many Southern states have been getting bluer (and browner), Republicans have locked down Southern state legislatures by wildly disproportionate margins. In North Carolina, for example, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 45 to 32 percent, and Mitt Romney squeaked out a two-point victory over Obama in 2012. Republicans, however, control the state Senate and House by almost 2-to-1 margins, their largest share ever.

And what have North Carolina Republicans done with this historic, veto-proof supermajority? They’ve cut unemployment benefits and Medicaid eligibility, gutted environmental regulations, and repealed the Earned Income Tax Credit and the 2009 Racial Justice Act, which allows death row prisoners to appeal their sentence if they can prove race was a factor in sentencing. If the GOP budget goes through, more programs will get the ax: early childhood education, pay for teachers and teachers’ aides, campaign financing, water safety, even the state income tax, which will be replaced by a regressive sales tax. Polling has shown that the majority of North Carolinians reject these measures, but enough voters who support them live in the white districts, where the GOP has retrenched. It’s a similar story in Texas, where a supermajority of Republicans has pushed through voter ID laws, rejected Medicaid expansion and cut school budgets. Yes, Texas State Senator Wendy Davis became famous for filibustering a bill that would in effect shut down the state’s abortion clinics, but the bill eventually passed, and its author, State Representative Jodie Laubenberg, hasn’t faced an opponent in the last three elections. Her district was drawn to be 67 percent white, a bleached electoral haven in a state that is majority-minority.

3 comments:

stickler said...

You appear to not understand the basic key to gerrymandering. Rather than make Republican districts have the maximum number of Republicans, the trick is to concentrate the Democrats in as few districts as possible, while making as many districts as possible have a slim, yet reliable plurality of Republicans.

Jeff Tone said...

"Carving out districts of white Republicans" does not imply creating the "maximum number" per district.

Unknown said...

Of course it's an illusion at this point to assume that taking away opportunities for racial minorities to elect preferred candidates would have much impact on Democratic Party fortunes in the South. Far better would be to take on the real problem: winner-take-all voting, which can be changed by statute to fair representation voting. See analysis of South Carolina that makes this point well:
http://www.fairvote.org/our-south-carolina-independent-redistricting-plan-exposes-the-problem-of-winner-take-all/