by Paul Goldman
If the Democratic Party lets either the GOP and/or the media turn the federal redistricting debate into what the DC Examiner tried to do – one about “increasing black political clout” – it will be a costly mistake.
First of all, it isn’t true; the issue is abiding by the law and the Constitution, not about favoring one skin color over the other.
Secondly, to the extent the fight becomes defined by such racial imagery, the president and Tim Kaine will back off, for obvious reasons. They don’t need that fight carrying on through the DOJ and the courts next year, right now shaping up as possibly a very tough election cycle.
This is the first redistricting, at least since Baker v Carr and the Voting Rights Act, in which Democrats control the Department of Justice Civil Rights division. Thus, for the first time in a long time, the country will be watching how a Democratic DOJ handles efforts to elect more Democrats. Previously, the shoe was on the other legal foot.
This makes the spot where the law and politics intersect very slippery as we head into a presidential/senatorial election year. Neither Obama nor Kaine will figure they can come out of such a fight with a net-positive gain among swing voters. The risk outweighs the reward as the saying goes. Moreover, such a fight will only embolden the GOP to fight back very hard.
The Locke plan is legally better by many measures. So it is easy to defend if one does his or her homework. Someone – state party chair, Saslaw, the Democrats on the Conference Committee, whomever — needs to define the issues involved in the right way, before others do it the wrong way.
Supposedly, this lesson had been learned during the GA redistricting recently concluded. Or was it?