It’s been fascinating to watch as two strong, dedicated progressives – Del. Patrick Hope and Del. David Englin – debate the House of Delegates 87-10 vote yesterday in favor of the Republican
gerrymandering redistricting plan. Personally, I can’t understand why any Democrat would have voted for this plan, for two main reasons: 1) Republicans could have passed this with zero Democratic support, which means that Democrats had a completely free pass to vote “no” if they wanted to; and 2) Democrats certainly could have, and should have, used this as an opportunity to express their displeasure with the anti-democratic gerrymandering process, as well as with the fact that Republicans are de facto locking in their control of the House of Delegates for the next decade (in spite of the fact that Barack Obama carried 55 House of Delegates districts in 2008).
In the end, the only “nay” votes against this plan were Robin Abbott (D), Ward Armstrong (D), William Barlow (D), Adam Ebbin (D), Patrick Hope (D), Paula Miller (D), Joe Morrissey (D), Ken Plum (D), Jim Shuler (D), and David Toscano (D). Among those voting “aye” were several progressive Democrats, including – perhaps most surprisingly – David Englin of Alexandria. Cue the debate between Delegates Hope and Englin. Del. Hope kicks it off:
…spoke against the House redistricting plan that racially dilutes minorities an equal opportunity to participate in the district’s political process. Political equality demands more than a mere mathematical compliance with the “one person, one vote” standard. Election districting schemes must ensure each voter an equally effective voice in the political process. This plan fails that standard.
Del. Englin then responds:
Now now, Patrick…before your throw the rest of us under the bus…as you know, the objective, empirical analyses of the plan do not support your assertions about minority dilution. I’m a staunch advocate of nonpartisan redistricting reform, but that’s not the law, and this was the fairest plan we could have hoped for from the existing partisan process. It pains me to admit it, but we both know that they treated us WAY better than we would have treated them under a partisan process.
PS – I still love you and think you should man up and run for the Senate!
The argument in favor is that it could have been worse is about the weakest one I’ve heard.
Englin retorts to the retort:
That’s not the argument. The argument is that this was objectively better than the alternatives, such as the nonpartisan winning student plans that packed minorities into fewer districts, diminishing their voting power, and allowed as much as a 9% variance, giving more power to some districts over others.
And finally, Patrick Hope lands this zinger:
Thankfully, the Voting Rights Act and DOJ have a higher standard than “was it better than the alternatives.”
Also chiming in on Facebook were several others, all in support of Del. Hope’s position. That includes yours truly, who added the following:
By the way, I hear that the corrupt bigot Lionel Spruill put on quite a show in support of the Republican’ redistricting monstrosity on the floor of the House. I’m told it was so pathetic, even the Republicans were talking about it, basically laughing at us for having someone so disloyal in sucha high position. Of course, Spruill is Randy Forbes BFF, so what else would we expect. The only question is, why in h*** is he on the DNC? I hope Debbi Wasserman Schultz will do something about this egregious situation ASAP.
So, who do you side with? Patrick Hope? David Englin? Lionel Spruill? Other? Feel free to discuss in the comments section! Thanks.