Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Color Me Thankful

Color me thankful today, the day before Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving Eve if you will. Thankful for the 3-judge panel of federal judges who oversaw the drawing up of a new congressional district map that will very probably be used in the 2012 election.

You see, Texas gained nearly 4.3 million additional citizens between 2000 and 2010, with over 60% of them being Hispanic. So you would think that the state legislature would draw up new congressional district maps that would reflect this change in the state’s demographics and give at least 2 or 3 of the new congressional districts coming to Texas from other states to this ethnic group, wouldn’t you? But no, this is Texas, and in Texas you don’t do the right thing if you are on the right, you do what is in your conservative heart’s best interest. You create 4 new Republican congressional districts, and in the meantime you divide Texas’ capitol city into 5 congressional districts where there were two before, and you put one of the most liberal Texas congressmen in an Hispanic-dominated district with an Hispanic primary challenger.

In short, you do the wrong thing.

Fortunately, Texas chose the wrong side in the American Civil War, and then behaved very badly in the years after Reconstruction, passing law after law that discriminated against ethnic minorities. This brings the state under the purview of the Voting Rights Act signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson.

A law that requires that all redistricting maps be reviewed by the federal government before they can be put into use. And the feds are fairly obvious in their view that there has been a gross miscarriage of justice in the maps that the legislature produced.

Another federal judge panel has ruled that “the State of Texas used an improper standard or methodology to determine which districts afford minority voters the ability to elect their preferred candidates of choice.” So we now have some new maps that favor the election of 3 Democratic congressmen representing Hispanic majority/minority districts. New districts in San Antonia and Fort Worth as well as a new district in South Texas.

A zoomable district map can be found here.

But perhaps the nicest thing about this new map, in my own personal case, is what the judges did to my congressional district, Tom DeLay’s old district, CD-22. CD-22 used to look like one of those Indonesian leather shadow puppets called Wayang Kulit. Here is the old map.

See? It was distributed over a broad demographic in parts of 4 counties, twisting through southern Harris County so it could take in NASA and then head south to dilute the Democratic vote in Galveston County. Here is the new map.

The new map unites Fort Bend County and takes in northern parts of Brazoria County. NASA is gone from CD-22 and is now in the new CD-36 dominated by East Texas and the deep red evil that resides there.

Now, in 2008, Fort Bend County voted 49% for Barack Obama. Fort Bend County came within 8000 votes of tipping to the winner of that year’s presidential election. So I am guessing that where we had in CD-22 a safe congressional district for Republicans, today it is less safe.

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