No room for arrogance, pride

Published 11:36pm Monday, May 21, 2012

In ancient times, boundary stones or landmarks meant something. Landmarks were markers, stones, columns, fences, doorposts, or gates that served as a covenant altar to God. They were visible reminders that one was entering into a land or place that had been set apart through a covenant ceremony. To remove, trespass, or violate the landmarks was considered an offense to God and to those who lived in that particular land. Anyone who moved such a stone or landmark was, in effect, stealing land.

Boundaries in Israel were sacred because God owned the land and He apportioned the property to the tribes according to His will. Boundaries were set up to protect people who had the same interest. Thus, to pull back a previously held boundary was to renege on God’s promises and would violate the best interest of the people who lived within the set boundaries. Boundaries were to be preserved; they were set up in such a way to protect the most vulnerable people within a society.

Whenever these landmarks were removed, it was due to arrogance and pride.

Such is the case with reapportionment and redistricting within Alabama. Arrogance and pride have dominated the process of setting landmarks.

Currently, the Alabama Legislature is considering establishing the legislator and senate districts that will be drawn for political offices for the rest of this decade. Arrogance and pride has caused the Republican Supermajority to attempt to dismantle the Democratic Party in Alabama by drawing plans for the purpose of eliminating white Democrats and thereby making African Americans a super-minority in the legislature with little or no influence over the legislative process. How do you justify drawing districts that are as much as 70 percent African American? The answer is obvious.

By packing so many African Americans into one district, you are reducing the influence of African Americans in neighboring districts. As drawn, the plans will reduce the amount of African Americans in districts held by white Democrats so that these white Democratic candidates are less likely to win in the general election.

Furthermore, arrogance and pride have caused the Republican Supermajority to disrespect preserving county and municipal boundaries. Cities and counties have been divided and will not have the same legislator representing them in their totality. This will cause conflict because nothing has been done to protect the interests of communities.

You may ask, “Why aren’t county and municipal boundaries protected in these plans?” The Republican Supermajority has become blinded by arrogance and pride. These plans were drawn using a one percent deviation to ensure that the Republican Supermajority got what they wanted. A plan with a plus or minus 5 percent deviation, which by the way is how they are now, would have done a better job of protecting county and municipal boundaries.

Such arrogance and pride have caused the Republican Supermajority to succumb to the temptation of using the redistricting process to select their voters, voters that they have high confidence will vote for them. With the sophistication of technology, politicians, with the help of mapmakers, can manipulate the process and undermine the very spirit of a fair and democratic election.

When this occurs, voters are stripped of their power and influence. Furthermore, voters are left without fair and equitable representation.

When the Republican Supermajority was asked who drew the maps, the sponsor of the bill refused to answer. So why didn’t he answer? Why not share the qualifications of the unknown person? Why didn’t he share the guidelines that were used to draw these plans? By now, I’m sure you know the answer, arrogance and pride.

If you care about political power and fair representation, then you care about redistricting. This process affects who represents your interest within the state legislature. In short, redistricting influences who wins elections as well as which laws get passed. Redistricting also determines who has voting power.

It is a big deal.

The state of Alabama does not need to be governed by arrogance and pride; instead we should be governed by humility and modesty.

 

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