Home Editorials Nashville redistricting reeks of partisan politics

Nashville redistricting reeks of partisan politics

by PRIDE Newsdesk

William T. Robinson, Jr.

Many would say foul play is putting it mildly when one looks at the latest redistricting of congressional districts in Tennessee and other states in this country. Nashville, Tennessee (a previously congressional blue district) has been broken up into three congressional districts as a result of the latest 10-year U.S. Census. With the current redistricting of Nashville into three conservative congressional districts, the Black Democratic vote will be diluted. Redrawn lines will include rural and conservative communities that largely supported Trump, catapulting Democratic Nashville into a Republican district.

Many Nashvillians, especially African Americans, find it hard to even begin to listen to anyone trying to rationalize or justify this manifestation of partisan politics that plainly seeks to dilute and harm the African American vote in Nashville. No amount of political rationalizing can justify policies or laws that make this redistricting right.

The Republican-led Tennessee State Legislature has exerted its power to extend its reach and control the vote. Exerting their influence in trying to expand their power may be considered regular politics, but it doesn’t tend to serve all the citizens of this state. Fearing the power of liberals (especially the Black vote in Nashville) is suspected to be the impetus for the skewed redrawing of the map that now includes some rural areas with a large Republican base. This was purposely done by a Republican congressional commission to attempt to change a traditionally Democratic city—making it Republican. Ironically, like it or not, with the growth in population according to the latest Tennessee Census, this radical change is said to be justified.

This contrived redrawing of congressional lines is a slap in the face to African Americans and seeks to dilute their political influence in their communities. The Republican led state legislature is showing us that they are in power and will do as they please. To hell with bipartisan support. The saddest drawback with the ability to redraw districts to cater to a specific party is that it is presented as legal—although gerrymandering is supposed to be illegal. This practice doesn’t serve or help marginalized African Americans in these redrawn districts. Many also find this practice disingenuous, deceptive and just downright wrong—especially if your district is being redrawn by your political opponents.

Liberal Democrats are outraged by this outright show of manipulation; however, if given control of the state government they would do the same thing to gain democratic political seats. Gerrymandering is partisan and it is an advantage to the political party in control. Sadly, it is a standard, acceptable practice and literally insures incumbents the ability to stay in office and increase a party’s influence. We are reminded of the phrase ‘Don’t hate the player, hate the game.’

The practice reeks with political improprieties. Redrawing congressional districts with a dense concentration of minorities or one’s political opponents only dilutes these citizens’ voices in their own communities. Many urban cities such as Nashville and Memphis that have a large democratic population and have historically voted democratic have been redistricted to be controlled by rural and conservative towns and communities with this new congressional redistricting.

Common sense should dictate that reshaping congressional districts to support the dominant political office in control should be wrong. This practice needs to be changed nationally and can even be argued to be illegal and unconstitutional, unquestionably favoring the political party in control. In a perfect universe, nonpartisan, independent, impartial, congressional commissions should be able to withdraw congressional districts every 10 years after the census denotes population growth in our cities and states. Political parties in charge of redrawing these congressional districts for their own advantage are unfair, unconstitutional and a flagrant conflict of interest. This existing practice clearly gives incumbents and parties trying to take over a district a biased edge.

A 2019 ruling by the Supreme Court showed that the court was generally opposed to policing partisan gerrymandering among the states, opting to leave it to state courts and state legislatures to be adjudicated.  However, the Constitution and the Voter’s Rights Act make it possible for gross cases of racially discriminatory congressional redistricting (overt racial gerrymandering) to be viewed and determined by the Supreme Court.

Sometimes the effects of gerrymandering can be diminished by the targeted voters going to the polls in great numbers, hoping to counteract the other party’s expected advantage. Time and time again, it has been argued that gerrymandering is illegal. Suspected redrawn congressional districts manipulate voters and the fight should be worth going in court.

Some people are quick to claim gerrymandering (the intentional manipulation of redrawing congressional districts for a political party’s benefit) is the same as redistricting. However, political rhetoric makes that hard to defend in court. We cannot look for the foxes guarding the henhouse (Congress or state legislatures) to correct this practice when they can use it to their own advantage. It is going to take the public adamantly demanding national change and holding their elected officials accountable for their wishes to be executed. But what do I know about politics? Too much of the politics in this country has never been about doing the right thing. As it stands now, it appears political business is as usual.

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