Thursday, October 13, 2011

OF COURSE IT'S GERRYMANDERING: Reader writes about Trial D

Boone County Republican/Dixiecrat "hybrids" take lead on controversial plan
 
We received this pointed and insightful commentary from a reader who withheld her name.
 
It is indeed remarkable for Hank Waters, a mover and shaker who surely knows his way around a fine Cuban cigar, to acknowledge the political intent of Rob Monsees' gerrymandered map.  Of course, Columbia Ward Reapportionment Plan D is a blatant political gerrymander.  Of course Plan D will pass.
 
The Chamber of Commerce-types (really the amorphous and more dangerous Boone County Republican/Dixiecrat hybrids) didn't throw down $200k-$250k for the past few elections (test marketed in Barb Hoppe's 2009 race) because they don't like chickens and bicyclists. (Though if Dudley can shed his eastern precincts, a 4-lane Broadway is pretty much a done deal).
 
They introduced big bucks, big media buys, vitriolic character assassination, and stealth candidates into a historically civilized election process for part-time, unpaid council seats in a strong city manager form of government to pursue an agenda. 

Why spend expend the capital, both social and dollars? The answer is easy:  to control redistricting.
Redistricting is the Big Kahuna of American politics.  
And while it is an exercise in magical thinking to imagine the folks who brought us the hatefulness of the Johnny Cash-style radio jingle and the sophomoric swipes at females candidates' physical attributes will suddenly "lay down their arms" and forgo their substantial investment in order to choose a redistricting plan that is just and fair, it is reasonable and healthy to point out LOUDLY over and over again that gerrymandering and other forms of skullduggery and smoky backroom dealing are alive and thriving.
 
Those who control redistricting get a whole decade to reshape the political and physical landscape of their jurisdiction.
Both the physical footprint and cultural attributes of CoMo will look very different in 2020 than they do now.
 
The goal of Plan D is to silence the political voice of those at both ends of the socioeconomic spectrum who are committed to social and economic justice by lumping them together into a single ward and ensuring small minorities of like-minded folks in the other five wards.
 
The good news is small town, insider cliques tend to be myopic and self-important.   As Columbia continues to grow and as the economic engine of the region -- CoMo's smart, affluent, relatively well-educated citizens -- choose competence over lineage, responsiveness will win out over status.   As evidence, look at the relative butt-kicking of the Dark Side of the Force by Helen "Skywalker" Anthony in this past April's election.
 
In the meantime, perhaps it's time for CoMo's non-Dixied Democrats and fellow travelers to lawyer up.

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