Last year at this time, Virginians were starting to tune in to the November 2020 elections. Of course, most of the attention was focused on the presidential contest between Joe Biden and the Orange Fascist. Also, here in Virginia, we had some hotly contested races for Congress (e.g., in VA07) and for local offices, like Virginia Beach Mayor. And then there was the Redistricting Amendment, which some of us warned over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again would absolutely NOT make things better, but if anything would make things WORSE, when it comes to partisan redistricting here in Virginia.
Despite all those warnings, sad to say, Virginia voters approved Amendment 1 easily last November, following a massive, well-funded campaign by out-of-state donors (including major GOP donors…to Kevin McCarthy, Mitch McConnell, etc.). Also pushing HARD for Amendment 1 were numerous newspaper editorial boards, including brain-dead drivel like this by the Roanoke Times (whose editorial board specializes in brain-dead drivel), this idiocy by the Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press, and this crap by the Washington Post editorial board.
Why were newspaper editorial boards pushing so hard for this “piss-poor,” fatally flawed amendment to “absolutely allow gerrymandering” and to very much keep powerful Republican and Democratic legislators in charge of the process, with a veneer of citizen involvement (the citizens, of course, being picked by…yep, the Republican and Democratic legislators)? It’s hard to say, but of course newspaper editorial boards are wrong all the time, certainly when it comes to Virginia politics, so it’s not exactly surprising. Also, I’ve heard the phrase “terminally naive” thrown around for those who bought the ridiculous arguments for Amendment 1. Anyway, the bottom line is that the amendment passed – sad to say – in large part thanks to a massive propaganda campaign in support of it, and perhaps by the fact that Virginia voters were a wee bit distracted, as they were – for VERY good reason! – mostly focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and the existential election for president…
So now, that same “terminally naive,” totally wrong Roanoke Times editorial page which pushed so hard for Amendment 1 is now like…whoops, this thing actually SUCKS (as many of us said it would)! As the Roanoke Times writes this morning:
- The commission “has already broken its first promise to the voters who approved the constitutional amendment last year…The initial appointments came short of the most obvious way to achieve diversity – by having an equal number of men and women…The judges initially appointed six men and two women, for a total of 11 men and five women.”
- Southwest Virginia is “unrepresented” on the commission, without “a single commission member from west of Forest” – a “very plain violation of the mandate of geographic diversity.”
- In sum, “a whole swath of the state is completely unrepresented. So much for either gender diversity or geographical diversity…the commission has failed on both counts.”
- But wait, there’s more! Towards the end of their editorial, the Roanoke Times writes that “there are other problems with this commission, too,” including that “this is not exactly a distinguished group of people.” The editorial cites one member (Jose Feliciano Jr. of Fredericksburg) for having “tweeted crude language about female celebrities he didn’t care for, using word we’re not even willing to dash out.” The editorial also notes this piece by The Bulwark – “a site run by anti-Trump Republicans” – who “took a dim view of [commissioner Virginia Trost-Thornton] because she’s posted ‘Trump won’ images on Facebook,” adding, “instead of having elected political hacks redrawing the district lines for the House of Representatives and state-level offices, Virginians will get an unelected conspiracy theorist,” and concluding that the Virginia GOP “makes a mockery of the redistricting process.” Well, gee, who could POSSIBLY have predicted THAT would happen? LOL
- Finally, the Roanoke Times makes the exact argument many of us were making for months, when that same Roanoke Times editorial board belittled those very arguments, that “because the law funnels all those citizen appointments through legislative leaders, we shouldn’t be too surprised that we get some problematic political appointments,” and also that “the process is set up to eliminate truly independent-minded people from serving – neither party would want that!” In short, the Roanoke Times editorial board is FINALLY, almost a year after many of us said all this stuff, watching a light bulb go on over their heads as they slap their foreheads in dismay and shock! Better late than never, or just completely pathetic? I’m going with the latter. Oh, and the Roanoke Times editorial board is also SHOCKED to find that “it’s neither pretty nor high-minded even when both parties are in charge.” My god, who could have POSSIBLY have predicted this situation? Oh yeah…see above for a gazillion links to articles on this very website which explained, in detail, why this amendment was a complete debacle and should be roundly rejected. But nooooo…
P.S. By the way, it’s absolutely appalling that *not a single Democratic member* of the commission voted against the two Republican “Big Lie” conspiracy theorists (although a couple Dems abstained, IIRC). What the everlasting F*** was *that* all about? I’m sorry, but if Democrats on this commission can’t even vote no to putting “Big Lie” conspiracy theorists on a commission that’s going to draw Virginia’s Congressional and state legislative lines for the next decade, then…for starters, we really need different Democrats on this commission. Ugh.