Friday, July 08, 2011

A Hispanic Majority District in NWA?

..............................................Doyle Webb...........

Recently there has been a lot of talk about forming a majority Hispanic legislative district in NWA. The chairman of the state Republican party, Doyle Webb, has come out in favor of it, as have some Hispanic groups. I am going to start by saying the same thing I said recently when the topic was forming black-majority districts down south. In fact, I will just pull that out and quote myself, because the same principle applies.

If implemented, the effects will be the same here as they have been everywhere else this has been tried: it will polarize the legislature on racial issues and at the same time marginalize minority concerns. A few polticians of color might be better off, but the average black Arkansan will have less influence, not more. This is because minority-majority districts concentrate more minority interest in fewer districts. Ten legislators with districts which have 20% minority vote would be fools to ignore their concerns. But if you concentrate those voters into two districts that are all minority and eight that have almost none, then their concerns can be discounted by the other eight.

That means you wind up with polarization- two indignant and outraged minority legislators who fume that their issues are ignored and eight legislators who have no self-interest in addressing their issues. In fact, doing so could cost them their job ....


Now for observations related to this particular story....

1) First a btw. I am less than impressed with new Demozette reporterette Sarah D. Wire, who refers to Secure Arkansas as "An anti-immigrant advocacy group." Really sweetie, I know the Secure Arkansas folks well, and it's Illegal Aliens that they are against, not legal immigrants. But that is just standard lefty-journalist misinformation.

Where it really gets funny is her self-description "I love digging up the story no one else has and inspiring a conversation with my readers. My natural ability for using documents and numbers to discover issues and trends has brought me to a career focused on political journalism." Compare that description with her recent reporting on Secretary of State Mark Martin's revelation that his office spent $3.2 million less than they were budgeted: "all spent less than allowed Surplus normal, official says after Martin lauds leftovers ".

Ha! She missed the real story in her effort to repeat the Democratic talking points with fidelity. The real story wasn't that Martin's numbers were only a few percent better than the rest of them, it's that (unknown to Martin and the conservatives) all constitutional offices are deliberately overfunded. This at a time when the governor is cutting programs for foster children and telling families in the Great Depression Part II that there is simply no room for them to get any more tax relief. "My natural ability for using documents and numbers to discover issues" she says. Stop it sugar, you're killing me!

2) Rep. Charlie Collins, Chairman Doyle Webb, and the rest of the Republican establishment that is pushing for this are carpet-bombing the base of what, for now, is their own party. Is it an effort to get the Hispanic vote to switch sides? For all the talk of that, it's never happened and there is no evidence that it ever will. Hispanics, except for Cubans, vote overwhelmingly Democrat. The idea that they are social conservatives and will switch over for that reason is silly. Blacks are also socially conservative- they were the difference in voting down homosexual marriage in California for example. They don't often vote GOP either. Besides, the GOP is not really socially conservative these days, so why should they switch over based on that?

I speculate that the real reason the GOP establishment wants this is to avoid accountability to the grassroots, the Tea Party types in particular. They want districts that are so overwhelmingly Republican that they can give the finger to grassroots activists secure in the knowledge that they can still get re-elected. They can do this by taking areas that vote overwhelmingly Democrat, such as Hispanic areas, an lump them all in one district.

Right now there is a delicate balance. There is a certain segment of their districts that will always vote Democrat. There is a middle segment that could go either way, and there is a conservative segment that will vote reliably GOP. And there is another even more conservative element that will vote reliably GOP UNLESS the politician disrespects them. If that group sits out a given race, then the Republican can lose to the Democrat.

I think that what they want to do is take out so many of the Democrats, that the Democrats won't even run anyone in those districts. Even if they do, they want to fix it so the establishment Republican can win even without the Tea Party types. They can safely give them the finger, knowing that even if those voters sit it out, they are safe.

If they try this and the Tea Party types get tired enough of it, it could backfire. A motivated Tea Party could counter with realchoicing.

3) A lot of the Hispanics in NWA are in this country illegally. The census was designed to count them anyway. Therefore a district which has a Hispanic majority population may still not have a Hispanic majority group of voters. Just think how angry they will be if they get Apartheid, lumping them into one district, and they still fail to get a brown face in that district.

4) And that brings me to my last point. The best way to get over race is to get over race. This is obsessing on it. When I taught for nine years in a black majority district I was asked more than once about how I had such good relations with most of my minority pupils and parents. "What's the secret?" I would be asked. "Nothing." I would say, "that's the secret. Treat them like you would anyone else. Expect of them what you would expect of anyone else."

6 Comments:

Blogger Linton said...

As far as the Dem Gaz article and Martin, I'm starting to get the impression that his biggest problem is that he's clueless about certain aspects of being in a state political office of this level and in making public statements.

8:05 AM, July 08, 2011  
Anonymous Christine said...

Why is it that every time I read one of Mark Moore's blogs, I feel like saying, "Yeah! I wish I had said it that way!" I feel like I have a voice, but I also learn something every time.

8:40 AM, July 08, 2011  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Thank you Christine. I have a million things going on right now, but I felt I had to speak out on this.

I should add one thing. Some of them are claiming that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 might REQUIRE them to draw up a majority Hispanic district. The voting rights act of 1965 was written with the intent of removing the effects of pervasive discrimination against blacks. There were documented efforts to keep them from voting, mostly by old Democrats I might add. There has been no comparable effort to keep legal citizens of Hispanic descent from getting their fair share of representation. Therefore the intent of the voting rights act is not met here.

10:22 AM, July 08, 2011  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

..and an expansive view of that act, applying it where the original intent of the authors did not consider using it, collides with the 10th amendment. Drawing district lines is a state function, and federal courts should have a compelling, and constitutional, reason to interfere with that.

10:24 AM, July 08, 2011  
Blogger mary kathleen waldner said...

with friends like these rino repubs...!

11:53 AM, July 08, 2011  
Anonymous Iris said...

Well said, Mark. When I first found out about this Hispanic district and how it was supposedly supported by the Republicans, my head almost expoded. This is nothing short of identity politics which has always been a focus of the democrats! Ark. Republicans will lose big time (especially from those who voted first time for Reps.) if they continue to support this idiocy!
I now consider Sarah Wire nothing more than an irresponsible political hack for her "anti immigrant" comment in her story.

11:55 AM, July 08, 2011  

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