Friday, March 11, 2005

Andy: Play the Game

This is depressing. Illinois Democrats have apparently abandoned an effort to redraw the Congressional districts in their favor because they're "above" that sort of thing. Republicans in Texas, Georgia, and Colorado can turn their states into party strongholds and increase their majority in Congress. They don't worry about niceties. They just want the power to effect their programs. But Democrats worry about appearing "fair and balanced." Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) sums up this attitude:

"The conclusion that was reached [Tuesday] night is we have more of a concern for the institution than we do our partisan concerns," Costello said Wednesday. He added: "Just because this was done in Texas doesn't make it right."

Sure it's not "right." But this is a tactical question not a moral one. We have just as much right to redistrict in our favor as Republicans do. Those are the current rules. It's not cheating. If we don't look out for our partisan interests how will we ever effect change for good? If we make moral purity more important than playing hard ball, how will we ever stop regressives from dismantling all our past programs?

Rahm Emanuel talks about "taking the high road." But nobody's going to notice if we take the high road or the low road. Moral purity makes practical politics impossible. We don't have to be better than the other guy - we have to fight back. If we don't win elections we won't be able to effect anything and we'll watch our programs and our view of government get buried by noise machines and advertising gimmicks and power plays and personality cults. These people have declared war on us and our values. We don't have to be dirty, but we can't play nice. It only makes us look like suckers, or condescending wonks. They'll continue to walk all over us while laughing at us for letting them.


At 3:20 PM, Blogger Michael said...

I have to disagree with you here, Andy. I think it would be harmful to the long-standing tradition of non-partisan resdistricting only after a census if we were to start engage in the same gerrymandering whenever we have a partisan advantage. Should we follow the Republicans into the toilet, the people won't have a clean choice when they realize what shits the GOP are.

I concede we are harmed by the the deciscion to stay clean in the short term. But just as we are not going to follow the GOP in their policies to favor the rich, screw the poor, and promote fascist agression abroad, we don't emulate their abuse of our electoral system by hiring Choicepoint to pretextually scrub the voter rolls of upper-class WASPs. Likewise, we shouldn't condone their abuse of redistricting by doing so ourselves.

At 8:20 AM, Blogger andy said...

Non-partisan redistricting is the right position on the issue of electoral reform. But there is no long standing tradition of non-partisan redistricting.
The American tradition is that, after every census, the party in power in the state house redraws the districts as much in their favor as they can get away with.
Mid-census redistricting isn't a policy issue and it isn't the same thing as voter fraud. I wouldn't compromise on the former or condone the latter. Gerrymandering shouldn't be part of the platform. But, if we can't credibly threaten to use it, when it's being used against us, then Republicans may never feel that there is a need for true electoral reform. They will continue to get away with abuse because we won't fight back.
It doesn't condone Delay type tactics to use them. It's a practical, not morally suasive, reminder to Republicans that abusing the system is stupid. It shows Republicans the political consequences of their electoral abuse. It fights fire with fire. "Be careful what you wish for" sometimes needs a practical demonstration.
If you punch a bully in the nose, it doesn't mean you're as bad as the bully. It shows the bully you are willing to defend yourself. We're in a fight, not a dance. Republicans know this. We keep trying to two-step; they just punch us in the face. If we don't punch back once in a while, they won't see that there are any consequences to their own actions. :)


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