Home Redistricting Del. Mark Levine Demolishes Newspaper Editorial’s False Arguments For Amendment 1

Del. Mark Levine Demolishes Newspaper Editorial’s False Arguments For Amendment 1

"Please don’t confuse your readers into thinking there was any knowledge, research, or analysis" that went into the editorial.

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On Monday, the right-wing editor of the Arlington Sun Gazette posted this screed about Amendment 1, which among other things:

  • Falsely claimed that the Arlington County Democratic Committee was being dishonest by stating in its campaign signage that a vote *against* Amendment 1 is effectively a vote *against* gerrymandering.
  • Also falsely claimed that “if the amendment is defeated (the position taken by the Arlington County Democratic Committee, albeit not by all Democrats, leaders or rank-and-file), there almost assuredly WILL be gerrymandering of congressional and legislative districts next year – but it will be done by the Democrats themselves.”
  • Called Del. Mark Levine one of the “rabid Democrats” opposing Amendment 1. Note, by the way, that the entire House Democratic Black Caucus opposes Amendment 1, so apparently McCaffrey lumps them in as “rabid” as well. Lovely.
  • Argued, inaccurately yet again, that anti-Amendment-1 Democrats are “trying to verbally contort, pretzel-like, in ways designed to convince the public that their opposition to the amendment is in fact the good-government position.”
  • See below for Del. Mark Levine’s response to that whopper, as well as to all the other…er, “stuff” in the Sun Gazette screed. Note the richly deserved sarcasm, by the way…

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My dear constituent Scott McCaffrey:

1) Has not once offered to interview me on the record or even attempted to chat with me off the record to understand my position.

2) Is apparently unaware that Democrats in the Virginia General Assembly banned gerrymandering this year (HB1255 passed in the 2020 session). To my knowledge, we are the only legislature ever to ban gerrymandering in American history. (I have assumed Scott was unaware, because surely if he had known of this historic first, he would have shared it with his readers and not intentionally covered up this vitally important fact.)

3) Apparently has no idea that Amendment 1 allows partisan political gerrymandering while current law does not. (He would know that if he read Amendment 1. I would advise him to do that. I would advise you, Dear Reader, to do that too before you vote. And no, the summary does not adequately convey it.)

4) Apparently doesn’t realize Amendment 1 allows legislators and their appointees to choose voters and not the other way around. (Again, reading it would help.)

5) Assumes today’s Democrats will gerrymander. Why? Because he presumes it! (He gives zero evidence or logic to back up his assumption. He’s certainly aware that most of us are not the same Democrats that were around in 1991, 2001, or 2011, but maybe he hasn’t thought this through.)

6) Has taken approximately zero steps to ascertain whether or not his assumptions are correct. Presumably he is unaware of the legislation we have introduced to allow a true nonpartisan independent citizens commission? And why we can politically be assured it will pass if Amendment 1 fails? Cleary, he hasn’t read the constitutional amendment I proposed on it, HJ143. (But in his defense: lack of knowledge preserves the purity of convictions!)

7) Having not done any basic research and being blissfully unaware of both current law and how Amendment 1 would change it, or what would it happen if it fails, and having not taken the tiny amount of effort it would take to contact anyone in the NO on 1 camp to see if his assumptions are correct, has come to the unsurprising conclusion that if you assume bad faith and don’t do any homework, your assumption always becomes your conclusion.

In sum, if I assume unicorns are real and I take no steps to verify if unicorns are real or not, then I will always conclude that unicorns are real.

So thanks (?), Scott, for giving us your assumptions. But please don’t confuse your readers into thinking there was any knowledge, research, or analysis you’ve done in making them.

Of course, if Scott ever wants to understand whether what he said has any basis in reality, I have let him know the door is always open. I’m always happy to inform people of the law, the legislative process, and political realities, particularly when they cynically assume a misunderstanding to be true.

So let’s try some logic without assumptions based on only on objective facts:

Since:
A) Current law bans partisan political gerrymandering &
B) Amendment 1 allows partisan political gerrymandering

Then:
I conclude the only sure way to stop gerrymandering in 2021 is to Vote NO on Amendment 1

And, of course, the only way to ban it in the future is to vote YES on my constitutional amendment (or a similar one) instead.

And that’s why all the leading gerrymanders and their dark-money allies say YES to this (See, e.g. https://bluevirginia.us/2020/09/right-wing-group-that-helped-gerrymander-north-carolina-in-favor-of-republicans-gives-50k-to-virginia-conservatives-for-redistricting-reform ) while leading reformers like Linda Perriello and the NAACP say NO on 1.

P.S. Thank you, Scott, for allowing me to respond to your blog post. Next time, though, you might want to call me first. Or at least do some basic research before assuming bad faith and then accusing folks of bad faith without any evidence to back it up.