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Inevitable remap plan slowed by other political purposes

Given the current lack of comity over redistricting questions in the Louisiana Legislature, I seriously doubt enough members could get together to Rick Roll anybody. But there’s plenty of political purpose spilling out of the struggle to carve out Congressional districts, and not just from those putting down the hammer on others.

As previously noted, the force holding all the cards on this question is Gov. Bobby Jindal because the Republican can veto with no realistic chance of override any plan he doesn’t like. Further, time is on his side because the longer legislators take to get something passed, the more inconvenient it will be for them and the more likely it is that political forces will favor Jindal’s allies inside and outside of the Legislature. For the U.S. House of Representatives’ plan, they don’t want to have to deal with it during either the upcoming or 2012 Regular Session or in another special session early next year. And if they don’t get it done now or in the session beginning in two weeks, by 2012 chances are Republicans will increase their majorities and Jindal will be reelected, strengthening their position even further.

If this reality was not already realized, a letter released by all Republican House members except Rep. Charles Boustany and endorsed by Jindal brought this home, which stated it was the preference of the signatories that the process be restarted in 2012. Significant was that the concept of the kind of plan favored by Jindal, including two vertical districts, a couple of months ago had gotten consent from all GOP members including Boustany but excepting Rep. Jeff Landry, who has indicated more agreement with a plan to create horizontal-banded districts roughly in the northern, central, and southern parts of the state.

Democrats appear to favor that latter plan because it could make them more competitive in one of the districts and a version of it passed the Senate while the other barely got defeated. The House passed overwhelmingly a version of the former, however, and in committee narrowly defeated the other. The House-passed plan awaits action tomorrow in Senate committee.

The emergence of this request, which again signals to the Senate that as its passed plan has no chance therefore its choice going forward either is to accept the House concept or wait nearly a year for another chance, also highlights the fluctuating pattern of interests that have prevented a Congressional plan from getting into law:
  • White Democrats protesting their loss of power. After a century of ruling the Legislature, an Alice-in-Wonderland attitude pervades many white Democrats that somehow they can force districts to their liking, even as Democrats now exist as the minority party. But they need to understand, due to this erosion of power, the letter drives home that now they only have the ability to block majority interests and not enough to impose their own interest. Typically, the last ones to acknowledge a change in status are the ones whose status has changed for the worst, and that’s where the party’s effective leaders, all white, stand at present. And it’s a really deep delusion when the best they can do to try to reverse things is complain that the letter is another indication that Jindal changed his mind about not involving himself in the process, as if that excuse carries any weight at all with anybody.
  • Black Democrats tasting real power for the first time. The last place the plantation mentality died in Louisiana was among state Democrats. Despite that for some time blacks have comprised a significant voting bloc and elective presence among them, the white leadership kept blacks marginalized in the party (such as by almost no support for black candidates in statewide contests) even as few white politicians could get elected without black support. But with a majority of state Senate districts held by Democrats now being black majority, with as many black as white Democrats in the Senate, and with just about as many blacks as whites in the state House and registered as Democrats statewide, those power relations have become untenable. Black Democrat lawmakers will resist as long as they can, simply because they can as a demonstration of strength, signaling who’s the new boss in their party. If anything, the letter’s admission that force escalation is necessary for the majority to get its way confirms to them their growing stature.
  • Boustany’s perception of his political deterioration. The correlation of forces when he signed onto the vertical-district concept he must have felt favored him, as such a plan surely would toss him and Landry in the same district (because lack of population gain forced the state to contract the number of districts). The House plan does so but that district retains more of Boustany’s than Landry’s current districts. Yet Landry appears to have, and certainly seems perceived by Boustany as having, made a great first impression among potential voters, as well as demonstrated campaigning prowess in the past, so he well may worry he could lose to Landry next year. And it seems now, given the various explanations about the origins of the latest letter, that Landry has supplanted Boustany in the Louisiana GOP congressional pecking order and only will gain further as time proceeds – a remarkable reversal of his incoming position. Thus, Boustany needs to lock in the most favorable plan now, the horizontal-banded version.
  • Parochial interests of legislators. Literally and particularly among senators (most House members end of representing a part of a parish anyway so the upper house’s members tend to be more sensitive to these issues), questions of division within and among parishes in districting especially have peeled off Republicans who recently were Democrats. However, what they have to come to grips with is that some people inevitably will be made unhappy by the process. No plan can avoid splitting parishes here and there and/or creating odd bedfellows of others. Maybe as they are brand new to GOP politics they don’t feel as great loyalty to their party-in-government’s larger preferences and think they are the ones that don’t have to suffer what they see as the less-desirable products of redistricting, and at least must show resistance for public consumption. But the letter should clarify for them that, by sticking with their erstwhile colleagues, they either can choose to join with their powerful new friends or to get run over on behalf of their old powerless pals.
Make no mistake, the letter ratifies that Jindal and his allies will get their way, whether it’s tomorrow or next year when that happens. Resistance may be futile, but, for varying reasons, it’s to serve other political purposes.


Anonymous said...

Once again I must warn you that self-gratification can make you go blind.

Jeff Sadow said...

And I now warn you that this space, as one can tell from its high level of sophistication in content and analysis, is no place for your public playing out of whatever psychological problems you may suffer. I have been patient with you, more patient probably that your analysts or doctors are with you, but any further posts that do not address issues in the posts will be deleted.