More fallout from 2010 election
The U.S. Constitution requires a census every ten years to maintain equal representation in the Congress. How congressional district lines are redrawn when the counting is done is left up to the states, which also have to re-balance state legislative districts.
In some states, the process of redrawing districts is given to a non-partisan commission. However, in North Carolina the legislature draws the maps, and that means the party that controls the legislature controls the process. For the first time in 140 years, the Republican Party is in charge of redistricting in North Carolina.
Naturally, Republican politicians, who won their majorities in the 2010 election using the current district maps (as drawn by Democrats after the 2000 Census), are using their power to make sure they stay in power. That includes dividing small towns into three different congressional districts as is the case in Hickory or taking the heart of Western NC, Asheville, out of its home in the mountainous 11th district and dumping it into the 10th in the Southern Piedmont. It also means packing minority voters into fewer districts and redrawing state legislative districts to pit Democratic women lawmakers against each other or against male Republican incumbents.
Proposed maps under fire
Canton resident and member of USW Local 507, Jeff Israel, spoke against the plan to excise Asheville from the 11th district at a recent redistricting hearing. “The proposed changes have no basis in history,” he said.
“It attempts merely to subvert the traditional political will of the western mountains and can only be thought to stab a knife in the progressive heart of Western North Carolina.”
The Asheville Citizen-Times wrote a scathing editorial against the Republican plan even as it admitted, “We expected the proposed maps to be political.”
“But for crying out loud, there isn’t even a pretension of any effort at anything BUT politics in these maps. The 11th District snuck into Hickory and grabbed a fistful on neighborhoods.
“The 12th District is so heavily gerrymandered it apparently doesn’t even touch itself.
“If you want an example of the politicians picking their constituents, this proposal is it.”
The highly conservative editorial board of the Hickory Daily Record denounced the new congressional districts as “self-serving, blatant politics.”
“We understand Republican attempts to shore up the party’s new-found dominance in the General Assembly. We reject the notion that chopping up major cities is an acceptable way to go about it.”
Raleigh resident Greg Flynn attended the redistricting hearing in Wilmington “because it appears there is no part of North Carolina, however remote, that cannot be drawn into a Congressional District with Wake County.”
“This plan is hideous in appearance, reality and intent. It reflects our basest instincts in political partisanship. It needlessly splits precincts and communities. Please go back to the drawing board, and find a straight edge, or at least a French curve, because these plans give gerrymandering a bad name.”
Even John Hood, President of the Art-Pope-funded, conservative John Locke Foundation, said of the 2011 redistricting process, “It’s a Republican gerrymander, pure and simple.”
“So when I call this a Republican gerrymander, what I mean is that GOP candidates could win just over half of the statewide vote for Congress and end up with 62 percent to 77 percent of the seats. […]
“If the Democratic gerrymanders of 1991 and 2001 bothered you, a Republican gerrymander in 2011 should bother you, too.”
Rev. William Barber, President of the NC NAACP, accused the General Assembly of being “engaged in an unseemly effort to segregate African Americans and submerge our influence into two congressional districts, and this is being done for the sole purpose of creating ten districts in which Republicans can elect its member.”
“It is a shameful, wrong, regressive act. It is a perversion of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and we will meet you in court.”