Friday, January 20, 2017
SOW the Wind, REAP the Whirlwind
With Trump ascendant, the tables have turned on the Democratic Party.
Democrats gleefully use every trick in the book to hold on to political power. In the recent presidential election, when it looked as though Hillary Clinton had a firewall of states that would ensure her victory in the Electoral College, no matter the result of the popular vote, no Democrats were offering to give Trump the election if he won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote.
While Democrats have used the federal government to suppress the states in Flyover Country and insisted all the time that Washington, not state governments, ought to be the source of all real political power, California's Governor Jerry Brown was not brazenly talking of exercising states' rights to defy the federal government, and no California Democrats were demanding that states unhappy with Washington have the right to secede.
Now the despicable Eric Holder has been tapped to lead a constitutional challenge to the configuration of state legislative and congressional districts. Here, again, the complete hypocrisy of Democrats is astounding. When Illinois state legislative districts were drawn after the 2000 Census, State Senator Obama drew his own district boundaries to ensure his easy re-election, and so much for concern about gerrymandering.
But the Democrats utterly abused the power to draw state legislative districts, and through that power congressional districts, for more than a century, giving Democrats control of the House of Representatives even when most Americans were voting for Republican congressional candidates.
Republicans for decades called for reform of the redistricting process and were laughed at by Democrats, who grasped how easily they could control government if they could always draw state legislative districts (which, in turn, meant that state legislative districts after reapportionment would be drawn by Democrats as well) and then draw congressional districts.
Republican Congresses in post-Civil War era repeatedly passed federal statutes to require that congressional districts be "contiguous and compact territories containing as nearly as practicable an equal number of inhabitants[.]"
Democrats opposed these laws and succeeded, finally, in having the Supreme Court interpret the last such statute as not binding state legislatures. The hyper-partisan advantage that Democrats held in drawing state and federal legislative districts reached its nadir in the 1980s. Then two factors changed everything.
First, the greed of black Democrat politicians whose whole existence is tied to political power sought and obtained racially gerrymandered districts explicitly designed to ensure that only black state legislators and congressmen could be elected from those districts. That reduced the number of reliably Democrat voters for the non-black legislative districts and created an obstacle within the Democrat Party to making districts competitive.
Second, Republicans, in the 1994 Gingrich landslide, which, for the first time, reached down to state legislative and secondary statewide elective offices, made dramatic gains in state legislative seats. In 1990, Republicans controlled six state legislatures and split control of 15 state legislatures. After the 1994 elections, Republicans controlled 17 state legislatures and divided control for 12 other states. Republicans held onto these gains in the 1996, 1998, and 2000 elections in which Democrats did well nationally.
What that meant was that the state legislative and congressional districts drawn after the 2000 Census were, for the first time in modern history, largely drawn by Republicans, who turned the tables on Democrats by drawing districts to maximize the number of Republicans elected to the House and to state legislatures.
Democrats gained some of that muscle back when Obama won in 2008, but the price of his hubris and unpopularity hit Democrats in 2010 like a sledgehammer in state legislative elections so that when Obama won re-election in 2012, his party lost even more clout in state legislatures, in districts drawn even more favorably to Republicans. This power to draw congressional districts, as well as state legislative districts, has also made the Republican hold on the House almost impregnable.
Democrats are now learning what Republicans learned when Democrats drew all the districts: incumbent members of the party that already controls a legislative chamber become almost unbeatable through control of committees, constituent service, and accumulated war chests.
Information technology advances now allow district boundaries to be drawn more efficiently, so Republican control of state legislatures will grow. Because state legislatures are the proving ground for a party's future leaders – if these legislators belong to the party in control – Democrats are watching their party shrivel and die, as few aspiring politicians will enter political life running to be the minority party member in a state legislative chamber.
There is a haunting warning from the Book of Hosea: "For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind." I would suggest that Democrats read and inwardly digest that caution from God.