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Ever notice how among elected state Democrats whenever policy goes their way, we hear nothing about “partisanship,” but when it doesn’t, suddenly the worst of “partisanship” has descended upon the pristine Legislature? If the redistricting debate launched in the House is any indicator, expect to hear a lot of the latter rhetoric in the future.
Yesterday, House Democrats complained about Republican Speaker Jim Tucker’s redistricting plan for the body, which would increase the number of black majority districts from 27 to 29 – tantamount to guaranteeing Democrats seats given the propensity of black voters overwhelmingly to vote Democrat. But that’s not enough for the opposition, who thinks a 30th such seat can be squeezed out no matter how oddly districts end up getting shaped and how few communities of interest come together in a rational manner.
Democrat complainers also fault the special session’s HB 1 for creating two instances outside of New Orleans and a few around it where Democrat incumbents look to be forced to run together. Together, in the words of House Democrat Caucus Chairman John Bel Edwards, “It’s more partisan because everything the speaker wants to do creates an advantage for Republicans.”
Perhaps Edwards has trouble with reading comprehension, or maybe he just hasn’t read the bill, but he apparently remains unaware that under Tucker’s plan, two Orleans-area Republicans get thrown into the same district. Further, regarding the Orleans area, since almost every representative who has any part of the city in a district is a Democrat, the severely contracted population by definition forces a lot of Democrat-held districts together.
House Democrats ought to feel pleased at an increase of essentially two guaranteed wins, given electoral trends decidedly have moved against them and have made them the minority party in both chambers since the past round of elections. But it is the same trends that removed them from the majority that have made for them problems in adjusting to their new role of severely diminished power. Thus, emotion substitutes for analysis, and rhetoric is employed rather than reason, all the while failing to comprehend that this disconnection between what was being said and what was promised or done by them explains why voters have been abandoning Louisiana Democrats, and most recently across the nation.
Regardless, partisanship in and of itself is no bad thing. It clarifies issue preferences and increases accountability by producing policy preferences without obscurant personal appeals. The only problem Democrats really have with it is that they’re disadvantaged by it currently, even as we never heard a peep out of them about it when they were its beneficiaries for so long in Louisiana.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 08:30