SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2022
Redistricting and race: Doggone it! Our Internet Service Provider has been struggling of late. For that reason, we have no real fish today.
As we waited today to see our service restored, we continued to struggle with Charles Blow's recent column about Ron DeSantis. We think the column raises some basic questions about the way our floundering blue tribe deals with issues of "race."
In part, we refer to our tribe's strong inclination to find a racist (sexist / misogynist / homophobe / xenophobe) under every bed. Blow's insistence that he wasn't calling DeSantis a racist, when he rather plainly was, strikes us as an example of the deeply unhelpful place to which this inclination has taken us.
Beyond that, Blow was writing about the role race and ethnicity should play (or possibly shouldn't play) in matters of congressional districting. In this hopelessly complex arena, questions like these arise:
Should state legislatures seek to create "majority minority" districts? To what extent should they seek to do this, if they should do it at all?
Are states required to create such districts by parts of the Voting Rights Act? If so, are those parts of the Voting Rights Act consistent with constitutional principles?
Other questions come into play, based in part on a shaky assumption. That shaky assumption goes something like this:
A shaky assumption
If Democrats constitute (something like) 40 percent of a state's electorate, Democrats should hold (something like) 40 percent of that state's House seats.
On its face, that idea may seem quite fair, but our system doesn't work that way. For an example of what we mean, consider the House delegation which resulted from California's congressional elections in November 2018.
California had 53 House seats at that time. This was the total vote, statewide, in those 53 elections:
Votes for Democrats: 8.01 million
Votes for Republicans: 3.97 million
Republican candidates received almost exactly one-third of the statewide vote. But did Republicans receive one-third of the congressional seats? In fact, the California congressional delegation ended up exactly like this
Democrats: 46 members
Republicans: 7 members
Republicans received one-third of the votes—but roughly one-eighth of the seats! There's nothing in our laws or traditions which says it can't happen that way.
Indeed, in a state whose electorate was split 60-40, there's no obvious reason why the larger of the two parties couldn't win all the state's House seats. It doesn't normally happen that way, but there's no reason why it couldn't.
That may not seem like a "fair" approach, but no law or rule regulates such outcomes. It's a bit like that with the question of "majority minority" districts:
In many urban areas, population densities make such districts inevitable. Here on our own sprawling campus, our own 7th congressional district "has been drawn as a majority-African American district since 1973."
(We're currently repped by Kweisi Mfume, former head of the NAACP, who succeeded the late Elijah Cummings.)
Our district didn't have to be drawn that way, as you can see from the district's unmistakably "gerrymandered" appearance. Elsewhere, population densities create majority-black or majority-Hispanic districts without any help from the people who draw up congressional maps.
To what extent should legislatures seek to create majority-minority districts (or their functional equivalent)? The answer to that question isn't nearly as obvious as Blow made it sound in his column—but then, he was busy pleasing the base by declaring that DeSantis had shown his racist stripes in Florida's recent redistricting.
(The Others are a gang of racists! It's the one message our tribe seems to have at this point, and there's a good chance that it doesn't help.)
On Monday, we'll try to pursue this topic further. Our nation is breaking apart on the rocks, and questions like these lie at the heart of the way that nation, such as it ever has been, seems to on its way down.
7/46 is more than an eighth, it’s even more than a seventh.ReplyDelete
the correct fraction is 7/53, which as Somerby says is roughly one-eighthDelete
It’s about 1/7.5Delete
I agree that Blow could have done a better job explaining how Republicans underhandedly reduce the political representation of minorities and Democrats.ReplyDelete
It's not THAT hard.
Make no mistake, dear Bob: only segregation can create "majority minority" districts.
And that's what you tribe wants. So, shut up, and get on with the program...
Vladimir Vladimirovich is weak and stupid.Delete
Dimbot "Mao," you're getting weirder and increasingly triggered. Why don't you give your fevered mind a break from politics for awhile?Delete
Mao is a paid troll living in Russia. He has to do this to support his family.Delete
"Blow's insistence that he wasn't calling DeSantis a racist, when he rather plainly was, strikes us as an example of the deeply unhelpful place to which this inclination has taken us."ReplyDelete
Aside from the question of whether Blow actually represents our struggling blue tribe, remember that Blow is an adult black man talking about a case of racial gerrymandering identified as such by the courts and DeSantis was governor of the state when that happened. It seems to me that Blow has a good case for calling DeSantis racist, even without discussing the racist-adjacent statements of DeSantis's fellow Republicans. This is not a highly questionable situation, nor is it one in which anyone should be stretching to call this racism.
This situation is so obvious and Blow's words so justified that it makes Somerby seem like a person who is working extra hard to deny the existence of racism, and that puts Somerby in the same category with racists for whom that is a common theme, in that struggling red tribe. I am not calling Somerby a racist any more than Blow called DeSantis racist, but Somerby's reptitious discussion of this essay (Blow has written another one since then) suggests a sort of racial obsession that makes Somerby's motives highly suspicious and very much akin to the behavior of notable racists such as DeSantis (who flew a bunch of asylum seekers to Martha's Vineyard because he thought they were unfit to live in Texas (much less Florida) and expected Democrats to feel the same way (hint: they didn't). And that's pretty racist right there -- and you don't have to be Charles Blow to think so.
Somerby wants Democrats to stop calling people racist. That may happen when Republicans stop being so racist. It isn't as if we are going around and slapping that label on anyone who doesn't deserve it, including Somerby.
Somerby’s main mistake when discussing CA districting is this — representatives are apportioned based on the number of residents in the state, not citizens and not voters. It is based on the census. You cannot reason from election results back to district demographics. CA has more immigrants who count in the census, are represented by elected officials but do not vote.ReplyDelete
Our nation is breaking apart, says Somerby. And it’s all because of race, he claims. Because Republicans want to engage in racial gerrymandering without hindrance by the courts. And we should standby and say nothing, because Republicans lose elections in CA, where they are outnumbered. It sounds like Somerby is suggesting that Republicans should win all elections, even when they are the minority or our nation will be torn in two. But yielding to the tantrums of losers is just as divisive and unity is a false goal. Democracy exists to make decisions in a diverse country, not a monolithic or homogenous one.ReplyDelete
Redistricting needs to be done by non-partisan committees, as is now done inCA, with the result approved by state supreme courts, not by politicians.ReplyDelete
Blow Blow Blow Blow Blow!ReplyDelete
That’s about it here at the Daily Howler. And don’t be a liberal meanie and ever suggest their could still be something racist about the Confederacy. I mean America.
I don’t think that mean is the most accurate description of why you portray the country as still being in 1955.Delete
It’s politically calculated and artful.
Republicans aren't racists.Delete
They're anti-abortion. LOL.
You’re getting lamer than Canadian performance artist.Delete
The entire "abortions kill babies" shtick is performance art.Delete
If you’re a liberal.Delete
Or Sam Alito.Delete
Alito thinks abortion is a matter for the states to decide.Delete
You think abortion is an art form.
Cecelia wakes up ornery and comes here to pick a fight before most people have even had their coffee.Delete
Calling Republicans "racists" is selling their misogyny, xenophobia, and homophobia short.ReplyDelete
You keep selling, but no is buying.ReplyDelete
What's that thing other than bigotry Republican voters believe in again?Delete
In the states Republicans control, they have no trouble gerrymandering. Democrats have done this in far fewer states than Republicans. If California can gerrymander enough districts to have 53 Democrats in the house, I am for it.ReplyDelete
So in what lifetime did people not know that fact while you were mouthing off about others?Delete
Somerby apparently doesn't know it.Delete
As though I’m shocked by that?Delete
Black people ruined blogging.ReplyDelete
DeSantis specifically targeted the districts with large minority populations, and eliminated 2 of them. He is deliberately trying to challenge the Fair Districts amendment to the Florida constitution passed in 2010, which prohibits not just dilution of minority vote, but also partisan gerrymandering. So, of course he targets the minority districts for elimination, while also increasing the partisan gerrymandering.ReplyDelete
I doubt that the black residents in the two eliminated districts will feel mollified to be told that it wasn’t racism that motivated DeSantis’s decision, but rather…naked partisanship. It’s true that blacks overwhelmingly vote for Democrats, but that just gives cover to those who specifically want to dilute the minority vote.
The US Supreme Court found in 2017 (Cooper v Harris, a landmark decision) that North Carolina had diluted the black vote by adding more black voters to the two existing heavily black districts (districts 1 and 12), thus increasing the level of gerrymandering. The map was ruled unconstitutional.
There is a ton of information out there for those who want to actually follow the redistricting process. Somerby has ignored almost all of it, and he asks questions in his blog as if no one else in the 60 years since the passage of the Voting Rights Act has ever thought of them or navigated the difficulties involved in the process.
So, yes, I would tend to agree that DeSantis’s elimination of seats, being specifically aimed at minority districts, has a discriminatory effect, on purpose.
It's a good thing for him he only hates blacks. If he hated Jews he'd be fucked.Delete
(because there's so many Jews in that shit hole state.)Delete
"Indeed, in a state whose electorate was split 60-40, there's no obvious reason why the larger of the two parties couldn't win all the state's House seats. It doesn't normally happen that way, but there's no reason why it couldn't. "ReplyDelete
Somerby says this about California, without ever looking at a map. There are very large inland agricultural areas (farming and ranching) that are rural and red. They elected Devin Nunes. They will never be blue because Democrats don't tend to live there. Meanwhile, there are "wasted" votes in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and to a lesser extent Sacramento and San Diego. There are enclaves of wealth in Orange County that create niches for folks like Kevin McCarthy. California is never going to be 100% Democratic and even with massive gerrymandering could not turn the Inland Empire blue or the marijuana-growing areas of Northern CA, where residents want to join Greater Idaho.
Somerby sounds like a huge idiot when he talks about CA without knowing much about it (except his dim high school memories from the 1960s). Meanwhile, legislative districts are meant to represent all of the people who live there, not solely the registered voters. So an argument based on election results (1/7.5) is meaningless when it comes to creating districts, because these should be based on the people living in that district, not just the voters there. In CA, those include legal immigrants, children below voting age, and those who do not vote.
An example of Somerby wrong thinking is Uvalde County and Ulvade city. Both are majority Hispanic and Democratic but the city of Uvalde is run by white Republicans. Somerby asked how that happened. Part of the reason is the voting participation of Hispanic people in Texas and part of it is that the demographics reflect everyone who lives there, including non-voting immigrants, and not just registered voters. Another part may be that the white Republican voters are more likely to live within the Uvalde city limits, not simply more likely to vote for the white Republicans who have the money to run for office. Look how that worked out for everyone.
How did California become such a shithole?Delete
Ask Ronald ReaganDelete
“Republicans received one-third of the votes—but roughly one-eighth of the seats!”ReplyDelete
Somerby links to the 2018 results, a particularly bad year for Republicans In 2016, Republicans had 14 of the 53 seats.
Things change over time, in this case, substantially over two years.
But congressional redistricting only takes place once every 10 years.
I haven’t even changed my party registration from Democrat but will be voting a straight GOP ticket this year.ReplyDelete
I’m not exactly proud of that fact but would be embarrassed to keep voting for Democrats at this point. I no longer see it as a reasonable option.
But the Democrats care about working people.Delete
Trolls have no imagination any more.Delete
Democrats strive to improve working people's lives..Delete
Republicans - the party of "family values". What will the children say?Delete
Republicans: the party of "family values"! What will the children say?Delete
Meh. Working people are racists, misogynists, homophobes, xenophobes, and generally deplorable. Only useless pencil-pushers are good decent people.
...as if you didn't know, dear dembot.
Will you only be voting for Republicans who pay for abortions? Or are you going to try to find an elusive Republican to vote for?
"I haven’t even changed my party registration from Democrat but will be voting a straight GOP ticket this year."Delete
Nice. If we don't reward Republican politicians for the disdain they show to Republican voters, they might stop treating them so poorly. And no one wants that.