Gerrymandering 2011

Published Brownsville Herald June 6, 2011

I have watched “redistricting 2011” with growing concern for our elected representatives. This political circus goes to great lengths to convince people that the outcome of an election is determined by our “masters” — the politicians who are the only ones who know what is good for us. It would appear that both sides care not a whit for what the voters want; they only want more power.
The situation as I see it is that the national Republican Party (not unlike Burger King Corp.) wants to ensure more congressmen (franchisees) who will follow the company line, so as to gain market share/power. The national Democratic Party (McDonald’s), which historically held the largest congressional market share for 30-plus years is trying to hold on to the congressmen/franchisees it has, especially those with seniority (bigger stores) that give extra power because of congressional rules.
The power pendulum moved a bit, bringing the balance of voting market share/power to uneasy equilibrium, in the last few years, as evidenced by the last election.
Here in Texas the Democrats, who held power for 30 years, created weird congressional districts to enable them to remain the ruling class.
Brownsville is essentially ruled by Corpus Christi, a competitor for military largess and maritime business. We have been fortunate, however, that our longtime representative evolved with time to become an extremely fair officeholder who represented us all.
Now we have a Republican representative entrenched in Corpus Christi, who seems to take little interest in Brownsville. Where was he when our port and primary area job maker celebrated its 75th anniversary?
We can see already that the lines determined by the Democrats made little difference, even though the party of the district’s representative has changed.
The Republicans want their turn and at least are honest enough to say they want more Republican franchises in Texas. They are not trying to say they are trying to ensure that specific groups will be represented fairly.
In the very near future Hispanic voters will become the majority demographic group, perhaps in as little as a year or two. Should the districts again be changed to protect white minorities?
I submit that redistricting is needed, but it must undo the harm that was forced on the electorate by decades of gerrymandering to manipulate the districts and thereby the results of our elections. Why vote when the politicians have determined the outcome in advance?
According to Emma Perez-Treviño’s recent article in The Brownsville Herald, the new District 34 would be anchored in Cameron County. It would cover a portion of Hidalgo County, then meander slightly west and then a bit northeast, covering South Padre Island, Willacy, Kenedy, Kleberg, Jim Wells, Bee, Goliad, Dewitt, and part of Lavaca County. This essentially concentrates the district in the “Tip of Texas” and represents most of the common economic interests in our area.
District 34 as drawn would at least result in a common thrust and interests that could prove beneficial, regardless of the party of the current congressman.
I believe a districting plan made up by combining these counties, with common regional interests, will allow us to compete favorably in influence with some bigger areas cities such as Corpus Christi, Houston and Dallas for our place at the federal trough. I am sure other regions would also like a real representation of their economic interests.
In the ideal, who could be trusted to participate in a redistricting commission? We probably should have to rule out all politicians and prevent those who ever served on a commission from seeking office. We would also have to rule out anyone who supports or is part of a political action group or special interest. I think that pretty much rules out everyone. So we trust the state’s ruling politicos to do it.
Perhaps we should select regular folks at random, as they do juries. Imagine that — real folks with some control over their country! I seem to remember that was what the Revolution was about.
Still, at first glance, while the focus might be a conservative political goal, The new District 34 might be best for us in Brownsville.