Texas Maps: All Texans Should Be Outraged
On Tuesday, January 24, US House Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) told a panel of federal judges in the ongoing (seemingly never-ending) Texas redistricting case, that, well, the Texas Maps stunk.
Actually, those are my words. She was even more eloquent and precise. She said the maps were an “outrage” and gave some strong reasons why. The GOP-drawn maps stripped her congressional office and downtown Houston businesses from her Houston area district along with economic centers that had been helping her largely minority and impoverished constituents. And as stinging as that is, perhaps even more painful for minorities in the state is the fact that despite 90% of Texas’ 4.3 million growth since 2000 is Latino, which lead to 4 new congressional seats (from 32 to 36) for Texas, the GOP maps created no new minority voting districts anywhere in the state.
And, Texas is big, really big, it’s not as if there wasn’t a place to put a new voting district. In fact, experts like Morgan Kousser at the California Institute of Technology accuses the GOPers of packing Latinos into a political district while purposely diluting Latino turnout rates in other districts. She even claims the state seems to be “invoking the history of racial discrimination” with these maps. And this is especially unacceptable given that Texas, because of its history of discrimination under the Voting Rights Act must seek and get pre-clearance before it can change its existing maps.
Let’s face it-The entire redistricting process in Texas is once again a mess and quite possibly an illegal mess. And it’s not just career politicians of one ilk or the other that get burned. As always, it’s the folks who barely have a voice that get caught in the partisan crossfire. Until real reform finds its way to the Longhorn state lots of folks who don’t deserve it will keep getting gored on the backside by the horns of this redistricting dilemma.