You’re getting hosed. I’m sorry to be so blunt but I need your attention. Because you are, in fact, getting hosed. Bigly.
Doesn’t matter your political persuasion. Doesn’t matter who you voted for in the last election. Doesn’t matter if you identify as liberal, conservative or anything between or beyond.
Right now, as you’re reading this, the Alabama Legislature is taking a rubber hose to one of the most sacred tenets of democracy — fair representation in a representative democracy.
Basically, our elected leaders are emerging from a smoke-filled back room, shady lawyers in tow, and telling us who they’ve decided gets to vote for them. That’s right, the lawmakers are picking their voters, instead of the other way around.
And we’re all paying a steep, steep price for it.
With current maps that have been introduced, fewer than 10 of 140 legislative districts are competitive. That means that in about 95 percent of all legislative races, a Republican has absolutely no chance of defeating a Democrat or vice-versa.
And roughly 130 or so of the lawmakers who are making the maps have assured themselves of re-election. For as long as they want to remain in office.
Those lawmakers — all of them having sworn an oath to represent ALL of the people in their districts — rarely, if ever, venture into the small sections of those districts that they failed to win. Because why should they? Those voters don’t matter.
Now, if you’re a Republican, you might believe that this is all a good thing. That the gerrymandered maps mean your “side” keeps on winning, continues on with a supermajority, never has to concern itself with a Democratic idea.
In reality, what this produces is a hyper-partisan district in which candidates have to push farther and farther towards the extremes. And it ends with the party radicals setting the tone.
Which is how we get 37 bills about God and the pledge and anthem and waste millions on legislation that has already been deemed unconstitutional in 49 other states.
“The absolute fringe of the parties is now creating policy and it’s tearing at the very fabric of this country,” said Rep. Chris England, who also serves as the Alabama Democratic Party chairman.
Now, you might think that that’s simply a Democrat crying because his party isn’t in charge. But that’s not what England wants — and anyone who knows the man would know he’d never want that.
What England — and a whole bunch of other people — does want, though, is to remove the politicians from this process. To stop allowing the lawmakers to choose their voters and instead incorporate a fair, nonpartisan panel that reduces redistricting down to numbers and county lines. Have the districts accurately reflect population trends and then let the chips fall where they may.
“This process … you’re not supposed to be able to design it so you get to keep districts,” England said. “That’s not your district. It’s the people’s who live there. And if you want it, you should go out and work for it. And if you can’t earn it, you need to go home.”
That’s fair, and you know it.
That’s something we can all agree on, right — that we want this process to be fair? Because it’s not now. And the numbers don’t lie about that fact.
In the 2018 statewide elections, which were widely considered a bloodbath for Alabama Democrats, in every race in which the Democratic Party candidate ran a real campaign, the margin of GOP victory was roughly 60-40. But let’s be very kind to ALGOP here and say that it’s 65-35.
Show me where those 35 percent of Democratic voters are represented in our state government.
I’ll save you some time. You can’t.
A big reason for that is because Republicans have drawn district lines in a way that divides up major cities, slices counties into multiple sections (Jefferson is in SEVEN pieces) and packs minority voters into districts in order to prevent them from affecting other races.
A perfect example of this is the west-Montgomery carveout that lands in the 7th congressional district, Rep. Terri Sewell’s district.
There’s absolutely no mathematical or common sense reason for this carveout. The rest of Montgomery is in the 2nd district. (I had a lady email the other day to say that the arbitrary line on the map cuts down her street. So she’ll be in the 7th, and the person across the street will be in the 2nd.)
But there is a gerrymandering reason: Carving out that section of Montgomery removes a large portion of Black voters from the 2nd and packs them into the 7th, where their ideas about the operation of the government they pay for won’t be so bothersome for a Republican in the 2nd on election day.
After all, why try to win over voters by talking to them and coming up with solutions to their problems when you can just draw those different-thinking people into another district? Is this part of the ALGOP minority voter outreach program they were talking about last week?
Not surprisingly, there is already a federal lawsuit over this issue. It was filed in late September by Sens. Rodger Smitherman and Bobby Singleton and three citizens and claims that several congressional districts have been drawn in a way that separates Black voters and white voters.
Everything the plaintiffs allege in that lawsuit is accurate. They are still likely to lose.
Because the only real remedy for this is voter outrage and voter action. Unless the people of this state start paying attention to the process that’s taking place and start requiring fair elections, this lawsuit will carry about as much weight as all those redistricting town hall meetings that were held the last few months — the ones Republicans completely and utterly ignored.
And you, average citizen, will continue to be ignored. And will continue to watch in amazement and horror as the fringe goobers take control of everything.