Angela Cortez, a member of the Denver Post editorial board, concocted this nasty little diatribe last week. It's spiteful and snarly, but worse, it is factually incorrect. Let's take a look, shall we?
Now that all of the Texas 11 Senate Democrats are back in the Lone Star State, Gov. Rick Perry can continue with a third special legislative session called to gerrymander the Texas congressional districts, a blatant slap in the face to the people of Texas, if not democracy as a whole.
Of course, the fact that the senate Democrats left the state (in violation of the law) is not a slap in the face. The house Democrats (who did the same thing in July) weren't slapping anyone in the face, either. It's only a violation of the law if it is the GOP who is doing something that the Democrats oppose.
Senate Democrats will continue to fight it out in court. The Texas 11 have gone above and beyond the call of duty, and we should be grateful.
No, they are criminals. Of course, after the Clinton debacle, it is fashionable to support criminals as long as they are Democrats acting in a blatently partisan fashion.
They fled to New Mexico on July 28 to break the legislative quorum the Republicans needed in order to redraw the Texas congressional districts so the GOP could create several new safe congressional seats in Texas and seal its dominance in Congress. Those districts, by the way, were just redrawn a couple of years ago, but the GOP wanted more.
Those districts were redrawn by a court after the Texas legislature failed to agree on a plan to submit. When the court redrew the districts, they specified that they could be redrawn at a later date.
If that's not backhanded enough, while the Democrats were out of the state, the legislature held sessions without a quorum to take away the parking spaces of the Senate Democrats and their staff, withhold money for mailings to their constituencies and impose a $57,000 fine on each of the 11.
Which justifies my above statement, in addition to being wrong. What the legislature did was entirely legal, whereas the actions of the "Senate 11" were demonstrably illegal. The fact that they left the state to AVOID ARREST is proof positive that they were in the wrong.
But wait; there's more. Some Republicans actually wanted to sic the Department of Homeland Security on the Democrats last year when they went to Oklahoma to bust the redistricting vote. Sheesh. Do they need a fiber boost in their smoothies or what?
The only thing in the whole article with which I agree. Involving the federal government in the case was a overstepping the bounds, but it's hardly the first time. After all, the Dems are really big on getting the feds involved in everything else, so where's the problem?
The Texas Republicans are very aggressive, with an obvious "I-don't-give-a-damn- what-the-public-thinks" attitude. It's a sentiment that says: "We're in power; we're going to get stronger; and we're going to keep it that way."
In the words of a Texas congresswoman, [the redistricting process] "is not one of kindness. It is not one of sharing. It is a power grab." Unfortunately for Ms. Cortez and her partisan mindset, Eddie Bernice Johnson is a Democrat, and the gerrymander the Dems pushed through in the '90's is still affecting the Texas congressional delegation today.
It is also important to note that every single statewide office in Texas is held by a Republican, and the state consistently votes about 55% Republican. Nonetheless, the congressional delegation is 17-15 in favor of the Democratic Party. As Jim Miller notes in this post, in a system like ours (with direct representation, rather than proportional representation), as one party builds up a majority, they tend to end up with an even larger proportion of seats in the legislative body. So the GOP should have about 20 seats, which is precisely what the King map is expected to produce.
We Coloradans have redistricting problems of our own. A GOP plan rammed through during the waning days of the legislature also is being fought in court.
The Colorado case is similar; the courts drew up a map after a divided legislature failed to produce a map. The new map was crafted after the GOP regained control of both chambers of the state legislature. New Mexico, Oklahoma, and South Carolina are three more states in which the districts were drawn by courts due to divided legislatures which have since united. New Mexico and Oklahoma are dominated by Democrats, and South Carolina by Republicans. Unlike Texas and Colorado, however, these states did not gain any seats; in fact, Oklahoma lost a seat. It is fairly unlikely that there will be any court challenges for their plans. (For more on the Colorado lawsuit, see this link.)
It's part of a scheme that has its origins in Washington, D.C. All of this is being orchestrated by House Majority Leader Tom Delay to ensure Republicans get and keep control of Congress. It's part of a larger pattern to consolidate power that is becoming clearer each day.
If you don't think all of it is a grand conspiracy and that President Bush - who had talked a good game about embracing the ideas and ideals on both sides of the aisle - isn't behind it, then you might be interested in beach-front property in Amarillo.
There it is againThe Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. And only Angela Cortez is sharp enough to spot it.
Of course there is a coordinated campaign amongst Republicans to strengthen their hand. It is equally obvious that there is a coordinated campaign amongst Democrats to do the same on their side. The difference is that the GOP isn't throwing up lawsuits or running away when they can't get their way. (Walter Mondale, anyone? I don't remember the lawsuits coming from the GOP over that fiasco.)
And I hate to break it to Cortez, but the GOP already controls congress; there is no need for them to do anything at all to "get control" of it.
I'm probably not telling you anything you didn't already know, but keep this in mind: Such actions are an attack on democracy and we must fight back. As Democratic Texas state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso put it: "If the majority changes the rules when it needs to win, democracy will lose."
We must not allow that.
How horrible. </sarcasm> The overwrought wailing issuing from the left as their plans crash and burn is tedious and annoying, yet somehow satisfying for someone who admits to his partisanship. An "attack on democracy" is overstating the case by a huge margin. An "attack on Democrats" is more accurate, and Cortez just can't deal with the GOP using the hardball techniques the Dems have used for years. Too bad.
(UPDATEReworded to eliminate perceived bias as per comment.)
posted on September 17, 2003 07:27 AM