One of the many frustrating things about the legacy media is how the narrative changes when the GOP wins elections, so that when the GOP uses existing tools used by Democrats for generations to implement its agenda, somehow this is an unfair abuse of power. Apportionment and re-districting are prime examples of this shift.
Although it is now fully ingrained in the political process, decennial re-districting and apportionment as we now know it took place in the aftermath of several Supreme Court cases, including the Baker v. Carr case and Reynolds v. Sims, issued in the early 1960’s. Before the 1960’s, federal and state courts tended to view apportionment as a political matter, meaning that many states had not re-drawn Congressional or state legislative districts for decades.
The composition of most state legislatures was arguably at its zenith in the 1960’s for Democrats and they naturally began to use the principle of “one man, one vote” to the benefit of Democrats and its allies at all levels of map re-drawing. The post-1980 Census was the high-water mark for Democrats when the notorious Burton brothers engineered maps for the state legislature and US Congress in California that dramatically skewered the district lines for partisan Democrat advantage.
By the 2000 Census, the GOP had edged ahead of Democrats in state legislatures and gubernatorial offices (a legacy of the 1994 elections) and controlled outright many important states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Florida – but Democrats controlled others like Georgia and Maryland. The common thread in all of these states was the maximizing of power for partisan advantage, something the GOP had never really been able to exert in the modern era, or at least not since FDR and the New Deal.
Naturally, calls arose in the legacy media to “take the politics out of apportionment and re-districting” by setting up independent commissions and the like. One searches in vain for such articles after the 1970, 1980, and 1990 Census data was released – and why should this surprise? Democrats dominated the process during those years.
Fast forward to 2010 and the devastating elections recently concluded on November 2nd nationwide for Democrats. While there are a few elections still to be called that may impact the apportionment and re-districting processes in a handful of states, it is clear that GOP gains have placed the Democrats at a disadvantage of unprecedented proportion in the modern era. The GOP will completely control the process in Texas, Florida (pending a ballot initiative), Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin among others.
Expect a barrage of “abuse of power” stories to start flowing once the Census Bureau releases its data at the end of the year and the apportionment and re-districting process heats up in early 2011. Even in Louisiana, where the state Senate has a Democrat majority, a coalition of Republicans and members of the legislative black caucus in both chambers figure to re-draw legislative maps that severely harm white Democrats all across the state to the benefit of the GOP and the Black Caucus.
I fully expect the Advocate and other dinosaurs to express outrage and “abuses of power” when Democrats routinely did this for decades to the benefit of the Democrat Party. Imagine that. Elections have consequences and changing the rules when one side is losing in the middle of the game might make sense for the ruling class, but to those of us who believe in the integrity of the electoral process, it’s grossly unfair.
Like President Obama famously said to Congressman Boehner in January of 2009, “I won.” Turnabout is fair play.