If you’re in the minority, there is no political value in cooperation.
This is a lesson that Republicans understood during their time in the last Congress before the 2010 wave, constantly voting “no” on everything under the sun, and a lesson that State Senate Republicans understood when they all voted against the Senate redistricting plan. Inexplicably, Democrats see value in cooperation, with dozens of Democrats in the House of Delegates voting to give Republicans bipartisan cover on their redistricting plan and gaining absolutely nothing for it. Far as I can tell, they didn’t get a free cookie out of it. Redistricting is a parochial, political issue that matters little to voters who would be unaware that there was even an election going on if it wasn’t for thousands of enterprising volunteers interrupting their Saturday mornings. It might matter to those who are extraordinarily plugged in, but it never ranks high on the list of issues voters care about. Schools, roads, and jobs, yes…redistricting reform? No. With nothing to lose at the ballot box by refusing to cooperate, House Democrats voted yes anyway.
Hindsight is 20/20, of course, but chalk it up to naivete. It was so obvious to me that both minorities (Senate Republicans and House Democrats) would vote no as a bloc on redistricting plans that the thought hadn’t even occurred to me that House Democrats would roll over. With this worthless vote, House Democrats set themselves up for this narrative:
The Republican-controlled House of Delegates approved the plan by a largely bipartisan 86 to 8 vote, but the Democrat-led Senate adopted it on a straight party-line vote of 22 to 18.
As the General Assembly returns to Richmond on Monday to pick up the pieces after Governor Bob McDonnell shot down new legislative lines, Senate Democrats return to their foxholes deep inside the General Assembly Building with no allies. Their colleagues in the House of Delegates have thrown them under the bus. The media has hounded them, and good-government advocates (largely ignoring the House of Delegates plan) have slammed them for drawing districts designed for their survival. Without a veto-proof majority, Senate Democrats have to force McDonnell to blink–otherwise, it’ll go to court.
It’s going to be a long ten years. Facepalms all around.