Politics: March 2006 Archives

I have little sympathy for one line of argument currently being advanced [hat tip: SCOTUSblog] against the Texas redistricting that the Supreme Court is currently considering. This argument takes it to be an unconstitutional maneuver because it silences voters. It gives those who vote Democratic less voice by lumping them in with a larger group that turns out to be more Republican-leaning. Mark Veasey, in the above-linked article, complains that his district, which is majority black and majority Democratic, was moved to a district that is largely white and largely Republican. He wants his district back so that all the people in the district that happen to be inclined to vote Democratic won't be drowned out by those who vote the other way.

I grew up in RI. Voting Republican in RI in most elections is equivalent to not voting. I now live in a city in NY, where it's much the same. Most of the state of NY is red. If you look at the county map, you'd think it's a red state. I'd love for New York City to join northern New Jersey and Philadelphia as some new state that will always vote blue, so that the rest of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York can have their votes counted for a change. If every single voter in New York outside New York City voted one way, I'm pretty sure it would have no effect if everyone in the city voted the other way. Maybe that's wrong. I'm not checking populations. But if you add in Buffalo, Syracuse, and Rochester I think it's clearly going to be true. That means the collective total of the rest of the state has no vote, effectively. And this isn't just pointing out that lots of people live in New York City and posing a potential issue if there were going to be a political split between the city and everyone else. There is such a split. To use Veasey's language, the political views and values of residents in most of New York are remarkably different from those who live in the the cities and overwhelmingly vote Democratic. Under the current plan, our voting strength has been destroyed and our voices silenced.

Some would argue, and Veasey does, that it's different when it comes to a racial minority. How? Voting considerations directed toward minorities are for the purpose of restoring a balance, toward bringing minorities who had been denied the vote to a place where they have as much right to vote as others, toward vote-counting that treats each black vote as important as any vote from anyone else. Well, these problems occur for largely white populations, so not being allowed to have a vote in the same way that certain largely white populations don't have their votes counting doesn't mean that we haven't achieved equality in voting. It means we have indeed achieved it. So welcome to the club. Your votes now count enough that political machinations and arbitary lines will affect you too. They've been affecting me all my life, and they've been affecting white voters for long before I've been around. That they affect black voters who live in communities that tend to vote one way but are part of a region that tends to vote another way just means black voters have arrived at the same place white voters have been for a long time. Maybe there are problems with redistricting, and maybe there are issues unrelated to race that have a bearing on this, but I just can't see how this argument can even get started without revising every voting district so that it reflects voting blocs much more exactly. Even then those who are the minority within their district will be silenced, but even without that problem I very much doubt this is what Veasey wants to propose.

Dem Candidates Bleg

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Now that I've posted he GOP primary straw poll, I'm curious if there's a similar listing of the Democratic candidates actively pursuing the nomination (or at least acting as if they're pursuing it, because I don't think anyone has actually announced a candidacy for either party yet)?

GOP Primary Straw Poll

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GOP Bloggers is offering this straw poll of Republican candidates for he presidential nomination. Some of the formatting isn't looking right on my screen. The first column is for candidates you would like to see get the nomination. The second column is for candidates you would not like to see get the nomination. It looks as if it's giving me errors when I submit it, so I don't know if the code is working right. Even if it doesn't work, it was nice to see a semi-definitive list. I hadn't seen one prior to this.

Last week, I picked up a copy of the Syracuse University Daily Orange, and it had an interesting article [registration may be required] about some students who wanted to start a chapter of N.O.W. on campus but decided against it because N.O.W. is a top-down organization that wouldn't let them promote the issues as they wanted to promote them, and there was also some hesitation related to the perception that N.O.W. consists largely of rich, white women. That was an interesting enough issue, but I have little to say about it. I do have something to say about one thing in the article, however. They include a quote from Marcia Pappas, president of the New York State division of N.O.W. Pappas says, "If you can't control your own reproductive system, you can't control anything."

Really? I'd like to see some evidence that societies that illegalize abortion are forced to prevent women from having jobs or to decide what kind of car they'd like to have. Show me even just a strong correlation between restricting contraception and removal of things like freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and other freedoms that someone who can't control anything wouldn't possess. I'd be interested in any sign that those whose reproductive choices are restricted will somehow lose control of all their limbs and be unable to control what words come out of their mouths. That's what her statement implies. She probably just meant that those without good control over their reproductive options have far fewer options on matters of great importance, but her way of saying it makes it sound as if she can't distinguish between having fewer options on matters of great importance and not being able to control anything in your life. Probably even worse is that she's insulted anyone who struggles with fertility issues. Her statement implies that their lives are completely out of their control simply because they can't control their reproductive system.

Whatever you think of the views N.O.W. puts forth, this sort of ridiculous overstatement does not in any way serve their purposes, because it just makes her sound really stupid. People are then going to associate stupidity with the agenda of N.O.W. On one level I have welcome this sort of rhetorical blunder, because I think the N.O.W. agenda is ultimately evil, even if most of the people promoting it have good intentions. Still, I regret that anyone would say such foolish things and thus bring the entire public debate over abortion down to this kind of idiocy. It's bad enough that both sides ignore some important philosophical issues that aren't always obvious. It's much worse if we support our views with statements that are this obviously false while also insulting to a significant enough portion of the population.

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