Opinion: The Congress redistribution is a very visual story; see for yourself
We learned last week that Tennessee Republicans in State House were throwing cold water on a proposed Congressional Redistribution Map drawn by state Democrats. The Democrats’ map – under state and federal guidelines – would keep Nashville and other voters geographically clustered and like-minded.
Yet no matter how more realistic and well-intentioned the Dems map is, it’s a fairy tale given the current impacts of the gerrymandered GOP of the past four decades, most of which included large dragon-shaped districts. head and a Kentucky- hourglass towards Georgia.
The dragon is the 4th district of US Representative Scott DesJarlais. And the hourglass is U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann’s 3rd District – a sprawling shape in the middle of the straw stretching from top to bottom and featuring a large splayed southern foot, otherwise known as Hamilton County.
This flared foot looks more like an afterthought than it originally was when Chattanooga was considered the center of the 3rd Arrondissement. The hourglass took shape when Republicans drew the map to attract enough white rural Conservative voters from at least eight more counties to nullify Chattanooga’s minority and strongly Democratic voters. Ask yourself, local voters: do you have the same transportation, safety, housing and recreation needs as voters in District 3 living on the edge of Kentucky’s Daniel Boone National Forest? Probably not.
But that’s gerrymandering: scrambling your voice and watering down your vote – one neighborhood and one zip code at a time – to favor the ruling party. The one who does the drawing. So, of course, Republicans want to freeze the Democratic card. It’s too normal. Too appropriate. Too much common sense. Too much like the Tennessee Congressional District map of 1973-1982 – 50 years ago.
The Democrats’ map would cut off the top of the 3rd District hourglass and move the district to the southeastern corner of the state. The 4th District would lose dragon form and move Rep. DesJarlais from South Pittsburg to the same district as 6th District Congressman John Rose – pitting them against each other and leaving a vacant seat in 4th District.
Republicans have promised the Democratic card is for the round queue.
But in the year to come, the map will change again, and we can be sure Republicans will make Tennessee districts redder than they already are. The GOP isn’t quite ready to release its own map just yet, but it’s an open secret that their new target is nine-term Congressman Jim Cooper, dean of Congress from Tennessee who has served since 2003. For this purpose do, the GOP will almost surely try to divide Nashville – diluting the majority of minority, strongly Democratic, like-minded voters, as was done with Chattanooga.
What is the underlying reason for all of this? Power. Control in the US House of Representatives. And the power not only over how many R vs. D votes will be counted, but also over whether the voters of Nashville (and us) have an influence on whether an R or D represents us.
The United States Constitution requires a census every 10 years, specifically to be used to redirect voting blocks so that they are fairly even. In today’s terms, that means redesigning congressional, state legislative, county commissions, and city councils districts. But clearly, “equal” is in the eyes of the beholder, or in this case, the ruling party.
But gerrymandering – the practice of manipulating these district lines – is a visual story. It’s about as easy as the dragon and the hourglass. Here we provide a view of the changes in the Tennessee Congressional District. Draw your own thoughts, but know that the Tennessee lawmakers in the state house where this district mapping will take place have already benefited from gerrymandering so much that they no longer care about your dissatisfaction. They don’t need to worry about it either. And they’ll care even less if they follow through on their plan to summarily remove another Democratic seat in the House.
Tennesséens who favor democracy – with a small or a large D – must focus their energy on voting rights. Not only the John R. Lewis Advancement of Voting Rights Act, but also ensuring that as many people are registered to vote – and vote – as possible.
Everywhere, Everywhere, Always. Anti-gerrymandering = right to vote.