This morning the nonpartisan redistricting bill was killed in a House subcommittee. It was 4-2, a strictly party line vote. Think about that: four guys destroyed a bill that passed the State Senate unanimously--God forbid something like that get to the floor to be discussed. And guess who was on that subcommittee? None other than our good friend Jeff Frederick, nutso extraordinaire and chair of the Virginia GOP.
Ok. Deep Breath. I'm about to go on a rant. Normally when I disagree with something a party does, I try to at least understand where they're coming from. There are a lot of issues that thoughtful people can legitimately disagree about--abortion, gun control, and the death penalty are a few that come to mind. Even the stimulus, which I have avidly supported, falls into that category.
But this is such a flagrant, shameful, unabashed, self-interested, shortsighted, anti-democratic power grab that it deserves no sympathy whatsoever. When the people elect their representatives, we have a republic. When representatives choose their constituents, it's tyranny. It's oligarchy. It's everything we claim to be against as a nation. Period. Both parties gerrymander districts to their advantage and it's a national disgrace. And it happens because of partisan hacks like the ones who occupy the House subcommittee on Privileges and Elections (emphasis on "privilege"). Not only did they shoot down the redistricting bill, they also killed a proposal to allow no-excuses early voting. I'm frustrated by that as well, but to be honest, I still haven't gotten over being infuriated by the flagrant partisanship on display here.
I applaud Creigh Deeds for his tenacity in introducing this bill every year; if he's governor this time next year, hopefully he'll finally be able to get it done. And if one of his opponents is governor, even McDonnell, there remains an obligation to get this done. Giving the people of Virginia fair, legitimate, competitive elections is without any question the right thing to do, and it's something that one might expect to gain actual bipartisan support--to some extent it did, since all Senate Republicans, to their great credit, voted for this bill. I'm actually somewhat encouraged that Jeffy Fred's influence wasn't so great as to prevent the Senate GOP from stating their support. Maybe this is a small sign that his crazy train is finally leaving the station--if I were a Republican, I'd certainly be running like hell from the guy who presided over the disastrous losses of 2008.
The patriotic idealist in me wants everybody to get along and do what's best for the country and the state; the vindictive partisan in me says that if Dems control the GA and the governorship, we should lock in our recent gains and make the other side bleed for idiocy like this. And that's exactly why people like me do not need to be the gatekeepers to power.