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Democrats Discover Fairness After Becoming the Minority | Lloyd Brown

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Democrats Discover Fairness After Becoming the Minority | Lloyd Brown

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Democrats Discover Fairness After Becoming the Minority
Monday, January 16, 2012 — Lloyd Brown

It appears the Florida Legislature is going to get through the bloodletting over redistricting earlier than usual.

After each Census, legislators must redistrict and reapportion the legislative and congressional political boundaries. While this is boring to most Florida residents, it is meat and potatoes for politicians and political junkies.

For about 50 years, Democrats held the Legislature and – would you believe – drew districts that protected incumbents and gave Democrats an advantage over Republicans in most districts.
Then Republicans gained a majority and suddenly a great concern arose about “fairness.”

Democrats insisted that some districts be drawn to discriminate against people of a certain color, and in favor of people who vote 90 percent or more for Democrats, and so that was done. Then it dawned on them that it left the other districts with a majority of people of another color.

So there were complaints about “bleaching” districts, but the courts refused to allow any unbleaching -- so here we are in 2012 focusing on the color of a man’s skin rather than the content of his character as the late Rev. Martin Luther King urged us to do.

Voters also approved constitutional amendments that require “fair” districts.

Unfortunately the definition of fairness given in the law is virtually impossible to meet.

In attempting to meet those requirements, the House and Senate held hearings throughout the state, attended by hundreds of people, with input from all interested parties. Anyone could go online and draw districts with a software tool provided by the Legislature.

In drawing new districts, legislators did not factor in the addresses of incumbents. Inevitably, however, some incumbents will live in the new districts and so there will be accusations of favoritism.
In fact, I venture to say any maps approved by the Legislature will be challenged in court by somebody. That’s one reason for the rush, so that it can be resolved before the fall elections.

Perhaps the judges, in their wisdom, can fashion districts in which any Democrat or Republican would have a 50-50 chance of winning. No incumbent would live in any of the new districts and so an entirely new Legislature of 80 Democrats and 80 Republicans would be chosen.

This would result in total gridlock. Many people might Tebow over such an outcome.

More likely is that the judges, who have no expertise or computers programmed for mapmaking, will choose from the plethora of maps, probably one that increases the number of districts likely to produce more Democrats.

Still, we should be grateful that after decades of unabashed gerrymandering, Florida Democrats finally – after becoming a minority in the state government – decided to embrace the concept of “fairness” in districting.

The conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus could hardly be more miraculous.

Lloyd Brown was in the newspaper business nearly 50 years, beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville.

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Lillian Lima's picture

I'm thankful to "All" of those before me who fought-the-fight for me to have my Civil Rights!! They fought back against the ugly ill's of Racism & Sexism.

Now it's time stand against the ugly ill's of Politicalism!! Why...you ask?

Because Politics is the new Ism. That 2-Party divide (Republicans vs Democrats) is what continues to perpetuate racism and sexism...Think About It!
--Lillian Lima, Florida Alliance of Independent Voters

Mr Brown should be less Orwellian in his historical spin. In the "modern" redistricting era (which he himself implicitly admits, about 50 or so years ago), the Democrats controlled redistricting 3 times (1960s under federal court duress, 1970's 1980's). The Republicans brought the squiggly lined districts to Florida in the 1992 redistricting when, with a 22-19 d-r balance in the senate, the gop persuaded african democrats like corinne brown and jim hargrett to throw in with gop plans that created seats for brown and hargrett by combing all democratic voters into fewer districts. The republican party was not shy about litigating the matter. Because of the narrow partisan balance, these key defections turned the 1992 redistricting into a republican year with the nearly immediate result that Jacksonville's Ander Crenshaw became the first post-reconstruction gop senate president in 1993. The republicans have never looked back. The technology that allows districts to be drawn with such mathematical precision down to literally splitting voting precincts if necessary easily allows the party in power at the time the technology is first to the market to draw itself into perpetual power. Given the facts which are a mattter of record for those who wish to know the actual history, it is certainly disingenuos if not dishonest to characterize fair districts as some sort of "sudden" discovery by the democrats, or a miraculous conversion on the road to damascus. Instead, we might well ask Mr. Brown, how can you complain of the mote in your neighbor's eye when there is a plank in your own? First remove the plank in your own eye. Perhaps more applicable, sadly, is that there are none so blind as those who will not see.