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Posts Tagged ‘redistricting’

Congressional redistricting should embrace split counties in some situations as the logical reflection of the divisions between people.  We know the cigar-chomping leaders will make the decisions behind closed doors and spin their maps as “the best interest of all Americans.”  But, a case can be made for putting like-minded people in the same districts because some of us are weary after a lifetime of constant fighting. 

Democrats and Republicans don’t understand each other and rarely communicate peacefully.  Heaven only knows how many people in south Georgia only have friends away from work who are just like them and that’s cool in a free society.  The problem is leaders of one party might make decisions that involved the entire area with limited input or knowledge of others.  From home schooling/private school to church, the only Blacks some people know are on Tyler Perry T.V. shows.  Have mercy.

During Georgia’s redistricting hearings, the usual suspects bounced up to the microphones to declare that this county or that county shouldn’t be divided because of the tremendous amounts of love and happiness inside those county or city lines.  Child, please.  Railroad tracks and highways divide most rural southern areas—east is east and west is west and never say they meet.  Oh, the Chamber of Commerce types will have you think that all is well and bless their hearts, all is well insider their worlds. 

In southwest Georgia, I wouldn’t mind seeing all strong Democrat population pockets placed in the 2nd Congressional district.  Yes, the neighboring 3rd, 8th and 1st districts would be even more GOP and that’s fine because they are “balling” down here or as the kids say, they are like “butter” because you know they are on a roll.

In Worth and Tift counties, U.S. Highway 82 neatly divides the GOP northern section from Blue areas in the south.  Some would also argue that the Red areas of Lee County deserve placement in the conservative 8th.  While I am a cosmopolitan guy with a wide variety of friends and associates across God’s green earth, it sincerely hurt my heart to hear that so many conservatives felt the centrist Democrat congressman in the 2nd didn’t listen to them at all…zero…zilch.  Really?  I know for a fact that said congressman breaks his neck to hear from everyone and while his final votes reflect the majority of his district, he tries to hear from the other side more that 99% of the southern GOP members of Congress try to hear from the Dem side.  When Georgia’s GOP senators dialog with Democrats, instant talk of primary challengers starts.

The fact that Georgia has two GOP senators is a game-changer for me anyway.  Here is the logic: everyone has two senators and one House member representing them in Washington.  Georgia’s senators are legislatively similar and also similar to most GOP House members.  If you are a non-conservative Georgian, you should hope like crazy that you have a Democrat House member to hear your concerns.  For me, that’s representation is more important that being connected with the other half of my county. 

At the redistricting hearing in Albany, Georgia, Brad Hughes, a promising young public servant from Early County, Georgia, stated that having two members of the state house serving his area was like the best of both worlds.  Well, the same logic could apply to congress for the next ten years.  Keith MacCants at Peanut Politics asked recently on his blog who should run against Rep. Bishop in 2012 since Mike Keown has decided to seek other office. Hughes, who ran against Bishop in the past, would be better than most conservatives at bridging the political divide.  Can he win?  No.  But he can position himself to be  appointed congressman by the governor if Bishop is selected by a president to be a cabinet secretary or maybe the historic next ambassador to ag nation Cuba.  You heard it here first and remember that a GOP president also would like a cool Dem or two on his team and despite the noise from last year, Bishop is one of the best peacemakers.   

I am uniquely qualified to write about peace between parties because I am a Democrat who supports Georgia’s GOP U.S. senators but please don’t tell anyone or the guys will get primary opposition.  If conservatives want out of my 2nd congressional district, I say good riddance and I hope you have the time of your life chilling with like-minded people somewhere else.  You should “get” while the getting is good because if Keown couldn’t turn the 2nd red in 2010, it can’t be done anytime soon. Green Day had it right with Good Riddance and Bill Joe was a big Obama support in 2008.

If you ask asked the people south of Hwy. 82 down here if they want to be in a Dem congressional district for the next ten years, they would look at you like you were crazy.  Heck yes, they want into the second congressional district and heck yes, the GOP people north of the Hwy. 82 would like to have a safer conservative in the 8th district for the same period of time.

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Politics and public policy are like Thai food.  For years, I wouldn’t consider eating Thai because spicy food is too much for my system (let’s not go there.)  In Tifton, Georgia, I got brave and decided to try Thai food at Coconuts Asian Bistro.  My neighbor, who is a food and fitness guy, told me that the people at Coconuts can make Thai dishes without the famous “heat.”  He was right and I am developing a tolerance for bolder dishes. 

Officials are elected to serve all of the people in their area; not just those who voted for them.  My conservative friends are as spicy as Thai food with their ideas about governing and the same can be said about the liberals I know.  Of course, moderates can see the wisdom in taking elements and concerns from everyone.

Follow me on this one: GOP congressional candidate Ray McKinney called me minutes after Obama won the presidency and I asked if he wanted me to help him grasp moderation so he could improve his chances of winning in a swing district.  Ray and real conservatives will discuss issues with others but see policy flexibility as weakness.  Anyone who flexes his positions is a professional politician.  Yes, there are professional politicians or public servants who gauge the views of the whole area and serve with secondary regard for their personal views.   

The mentality is “I know what’s best for me and also know what’s best for you.”  What happen to “all men are created equal.”  It’s an insult when some people consider themselves more American than others.  President Obama is in Ireland this week.  We know when  his father came here and his mother was a descendant of an Irishman who arrived in America 160 years ago–which would likely be 160 years after my folks were brought here against their will in the hulls of ships.  But, some people feel for whatever reasons that they have the right to make policy without input from those who pay fewer taxes or create fewer jobs.  At the same time, knuckleheads in my area have little regard for community and have developed an entitlement mentality but that is another subject for another day.

In my personal opinion, Georgia two senators and my congressman try to serve public policy that is mindful of most Georgians.  You would never know that Senator Isakson’s record is so conservative because he plates up his dishes in a cool manner.  We all know that Sanford Bishop ran for congress while his personal views were left of center but SDB has a good comfort level with most people and quickly developed the ability to serve those who voted for him and surprisingly the regional interests of those who didn’t.  A public servant in a swing district must have that ability. 

If conservatives would produce candidates who could dial down the spiciness initially, they could secure more of the center.  If you think about it, many current conservatives made the transition over time by developing a palate for the Right (former Georgia governor Sonny Purdue and current Georgian governor Nathan Deal were both Dems in the 90s.)  That hot, nasty style of politics runs people off.  I would have a better life if I was a vegan or raw foods guy but that is not happening overnight—let’s start with some carrots.  If redistricting changes the composition of a congressional district, the temperament of the congress person from that area should also change.  Some folks don’t get that and they might be the same people who spice all the food while cooking for others.  The recipe says “season to taste.”    

http://www.coconutasianbistro.com/index.htm

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Every southerner should be mapmaking during the redistricting process because our representation for the next ten years is on the table.  We shouldn’t leave it to the state legislators alone because they work for us.  There should be a smart phone app for redistricting. 

Because I am watching The Borgias on Showtime, ice-cold Niccolo Machiavelli, Pope Alexander VI and Amerigo Vespucci come to mind when think about our mapmaking.  I read in Machiavelli’s The Prince that one should kiss his enemy on the left cheek then the right cheek—no wondering why Tupac liked his writings. Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia) stopped at nothing to get the territorial arrangements he wanted and so should we.   

How could Christopher Columbus “discover” a land with millions of inhabitants?  Columbus didn’t know where he was or what he had but Vespucci came back from current South America and reported to the d’Medici family that the land was larger than anticipated and not the Asia described by Ptolemy or Marco Polo.  It must be a New World or new continent.  In 1507, mapmaker Martin Waldseemuller produced a world map and named the new continent America after Vespucci’s first name.

It’s my turn to produce a congressional district of Georgia (actually, software programs for this purpose are online.)

It’s my turn to produce a congressional district of Georgia (actually, software programs for this purpose are online.)

My map would feature:

  • Going back to the 1992 map for the second congressional district (my area) with parts of Bibb County joining Albany and Columbus again.  The Republicans in the 8th District clearly don’t want that Macon concentration of Democrat voters and we would take then gladly.
  • Thomas, Brooks and maybe the rest of Lowndes County should be put into the 1st congressional district because they hate being in a moderate district.  Congressional candidate Mike Keown ran strong last year and he would be the heir apparent when Jack Kingston leaves for bigger things or returns to lovely costal Georgia.  Yes, Keown is congressional material but not in a swing district.  
  • Because I want to see a congressional district that can elect an African American GOPer member of congress, I would make the new 14th District a collection of moderate Democrats that give headaches to current GOP members but just enough Republicans to win the seat—Hall, Clarke, etc.  I want a brother or sister who would say once and for all, “stick to the issues and enough with the nonsense.”  Blacks would vote a candidate like that.

Of course, the U.S. Justice Department must review the congressional maps and I am hearing that all of Chatham County might go from the 1st District into the 12th District in an effort to improve the chances for a GOPer the 12th.  All of this is wild speculations but every Georgian should have at it.  If we have learned anything from the actions of the Tea Party Movement, it would be that elected officials work for us and we have a say.

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