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Opinion | Gerrymandering prevents the one thing that could save us: Compromise

An Alabama legislative district map.

You’re going to want to sit down for this one: Alabama’s legislative districts were drawn with the intent of lessening the impact of minority voters. 

I know, I know. Shocking. Right? 

I mean, here I thought it was just our schools and our courts and our statues and our social programs and our law enforcement and our general everyday mindset that were driven, at least in part, by racism. But apparently it’s our voting maps too. 

As APR’s Eddie Burkhalter points out in a story today, Alabama Republicans employed the services of the nation’s No. 1 Racist Map Drawing Guy, Thomas Hofeller, to help them with their plans in 2012 to make sure the blacks and Hispanics stayed in their place. 

And ol’ Hofeller did his job. 

In emails and meetings, Hofeller (allegedly) explained to the group of Alabama Republicans and their lawyers who taxpayers compensated to aid in this racist pursuit how to draw up legislative districts that maintained enough black representatives to equal population ratios but that packed those black voters into a few districts, so as to lessen their overall impact on other districts. 

Which is how you explain a Republican supermajority that is so white it makes a Klan rally seem diverse. 

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But more importantly, it’s how you get a state legislature comprised of so many people who have zero understanding, and zero care, about the plight of minority people in Alabama. They’ve never lived in those communities, never dealt with their problems, and thanks to gerrymandering, they don’t even have to listen to minority voters to better understand their issues. 

Instead, these lawmakers, and the voters who elect them, are fully encapsulated within the conservative, white bubble. Where only white problems and made-up white people issues are of concern. 

Which is how you wind up with a dozen abortion bills, dozens of God-in-school bills, repeated attempts to drug test welfare recipients, constant attempts to cut social programs and unemployment benefits, and about 10,000 campaign photos every other year of these goobers walking through a field with a gun on their shoulder. 

Because Republicans in Alabama have drawn the maps in such a way that they only have to worry about beating other Republicans. 

Actually, let me rephrase: Republicans in Alabama, who weren’t smart enough to cheat properly on their own, hired a smart racist to help them redraw the voting maps. 

And that’s how you end up with a thoroughly corrupt, one-party state that is first in most things bad and last in most things good. Thanks to gerrymandering, no one ever pays a real political price for corruption, cheating or general ineptitude. 

“Gerrymandering is the primary reason for the bitter partisan divide in this country and the biggest problem in American politics today,” Sen. Doug Jones said. “These new findings are deeply concerning. For years, Republicans have drawn district lines to keep minorities and African Americans from having equal voting power in Alabama. Districts should be drawn by nonpartisan commissions and not controlled by legislatures. Expanding voting rights and cracking down on gerrymandering is critical to maintaining a representative democracy.”

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Jones is right, and you know it. 

This wasn’t the way our government was intended to function. We’re not supposed to have one party with supreme control, with the ability to force through any measure without compromise and diplomacy. 

And no, I’m not just saying this because Republicans in this state are in control. It’s also not OK for Democrats to do it. 

And no voter in this country should ever want a supermajority — either in state legislatures or in Congress. Because it eliminates the one component that has made America truly great — compromise. 

With it, you get one of the greatest countries on Earth. 

Without it, you get Alabama.


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Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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