Another Helpful Sailer Suggestion Obama Won`t Take—End Voting Rights Act Gerrymanders!

As I

pointed out
last week, President Obama has a
unique
opportunity, as the first black President, to engage in an
act of personal statesmanship that would be good both good
for the country and
his re-election chances: declare victory in the

War on Discrimination.
Bring the federal diversicrat
troops home from
their long
battle against America`s employers
!

Of course, Obama`s
not going to do that. Indeed, the entire concept is completely off
the radar of respectable political discourse. If you
suggested it to—taking a liberal Bigfoot at random—Paul
Krugman
, the Nobel Laureate economist would merely look

confused
until he finally grasped the idea. Then, when
he understood its elegant logic, he would become enraged
that you even mentioned it.

So, this week, I`m going to offer the
President another
helpful idea for farsighted reform. This one would even help
the Democrats escape some of the redistricting jam they`ve
gotten themselves into for the next decade or so:



Obama should ask the new Congress to pare back the

Voting Rights Act
to just its colorblind elements
—tossing
out as obsolete the sections crudely (and arguably
unconstitutionally) intended to benefit minorities.

The Democrats were

crushed
by the GOP in the 2010 state legislature
elections. By one estimate, Republicans picked up 680
legislative seats. This was extremely bad timing for the
Democrats. These more Republican legislatures will get to
redistrict many of the U.S. House and state electoral
districts, using the upcoming 2010 Census results, for the
2012 through 2020 elections.

Political consultant John Feehery

says
:
“Republicans will have the pen in redrawing [House] 195
seats, while Democrats will have the power in only 45 seats
…”

The paradoxical role that the

Voting Rights Act
will play in the upcoming orgy of

gerrymander
is difficult for white liberals to
comprehend. They generally assume that


“civil rights laws”
—being, by definition,
good—automatically benefit nice white people like
themselves, at the expense of the
mean
white people in the Other Party
. The term
“civil rights”
has such
talismanic, brain-sapping power
that few liberals can
get their heads around the way in which the VRA hurts
them—by facilitating arms-length, tacit deals between
minority Democrats and white Republicans.

Thus
Slate
ran on November 10, 2010 a headline of pure
liberal boobbait:

Coloring Inside the Lines
: Will the Voting Rights Act
stop Republicans from redistricting as they please?
by
Yale
Law professor Heather Gerken.

Yet when this essay is read carefully, it
makes clear that, no, the Voting Rights Act will likely
help the Republican state legislatures gerrymander in their
self-interest, by validating the creation of
absurdly-contoured majority minority districts.

Gerken
explains the mechanisms:

“Two
VRA provisions matter for redistricting. The first

is Section 5, which applies mainly to states in the Deep
South
. … Section 5 thus gives DoJ officials considerable
sway over line drawing. During the 1990s, for instance, DoJ
used its behind-the-scenes power to push states to draw
majority-minority districts. … The second provision that
matters for redistricting is Section 2, which authorizes
both the DoJ and private parties to challenge districting
plans that dilute the voting power of racial minorities.”

The legal theory is that white voters are
so racist that the only way for minorities ever to win
elections is to design some districts that are
disproportionately Democratic.
 But in practice the
Voting Rights Act enables cynical Republican politicians to
coop up large numbers of Democratic voters in
“majority minority”
districts.


Slate`s
accompanying slide show of


The Most Gerrymandered Congressional Districts
turns
out to be, when you page through it, 80 percent Democratic,
with seven of the 16 Democrats being minorities.

Gerken`s
article was illustrated by a map of a ridiculous
Congressional district, presumably to illustrate the kind of
gerrymandered atrocities the racist Republicans would
concoct if not restrained by the sainted VRA.

Hey, wait a minute, I thought to myself. I
recognize that
Congressional district! That`s the notorious

Earmuff District
whipped up under the VRA to connect the
two Latino sectors of Cook County for the
benefit
of Luis Gutierrez!
(He`s now the

noisiest amnesty advocate in the
House.
)


Interestingly, the early 1990s powerbrokers behind this
ridiculous shape were Mayor Richie Daley, the
Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and …
Rep. Denny Hastert, the future

GOP Speaker of the House.

As the
Chicago Reader
explained back in 1997:

“In
Illinois, the way the Fourth Congressional District was
drawn hurt Democrats the most. … `This is an old game for
Republicans,` says

Victor Crown.
`They`ll form a silent coalition with the
most radical black and Hispanic activists, and together
they`ll create all-black or Hispanic districts that really
screw the Democratic machine hacks. Sure it`s hypocritical,
especially coming from conservatives who say they hate
racial set-asides. But what do you expect? They`re
politicians, not saints.`”

[Let`s
Get Luis!
By Ben Joravsky, March 27, 1997]

Gutierrez`s custom-made district is

75
percent Hispanic.

It`s a
surprise, frankly. In general, Democrats are much craftier
than Republicans about the implications of arcane
race-related rules, as the complex history of racial
preferences shows.

But it
turns out that

Republican politicians
can be plenty

Machiavellian
when it comes to preserving

their own jobs
.

To
understand the arithmetic of how Republicans use the VRA to
gerrymander, consider a stylized example with round numbers:

Say you are a

Republican apparatchik
assigned by the Republican
majority leaders in your state legislature to gerrymander
four million people, half Republicans and half Democrats,
into four districts. The smart play for the GOP is to divvy
up the population something like this:



Democrats


Republicans


Normal Year


District 1


650,000


350,000


Dem


District 2


450,000


550,000


Rep


District 3


450,000


550,000


Rep


District 4


450,000


550,000


Rep

You make
three districts 55 percent Republican and the other one 65
percent Democrat. Thus, in a normal 50-50 year, you win
three out of four districts. Perhaps that`s one reason the
GOP clung to control of the House in their mediocre election
years of 1996, 1998, and 2000 even though they were being
beaten by Clinton and Gore. Of course, the downside to this
strategy is that in truly bad years, like 2006 or 2008,
you`re in danger of losing all four districts.

How do
Republicans justify such a naked partisan power play?

It`s
easy: they`re fighting white racism
!

See, white people are so bigoted that
Republican leaders are morally mandated
to
pile up a big surplus of Democrats
in District 1 to
elect a minority representative—while the Republicans eke
out narrow victories (but sill victories)
 in Districts 2, 3,
and 4.

The rhetoric that Republican politicians
use to rationalize this can be pretty funny. Four years ago,
for example, the GOP-run Congress passed and President Bush
signed the hilariously-named Fannie
Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, And Coretta Scott King Voting Rights
Act Reauthorization And Amendments Act Of 2006
.

(Why
was

Harriet Tubman
left out?)


So Republican wonks think the VRA is good for GOP
politicians. But why do white Democrats think it`s in their
interests, too?



Because the Democrats are playing a long-term game
.
It`s much like on immigration, where Karl
Rove
apparently saw lax borders as

a way to drive down wages
and thus starve organized
labor`s campaign funds, while

Ted Kennedy
saw immigration as a way to
“elect a new
people”.

The VRA will cost Democrats a few seats over the next
decade. But it channels ambitious young minority politicos
into the Democratic Party by holding out the hope of their
getting a safe seat in an

overwhelmingly Democratic district.

Indeed, the VRA has been terrific for the
careers of low-level black and Hispanic politicians. There
will be

42
blacks in the House of Representatives, or 9.6
percent of the 435 total.

Interestingly,

two are Republicans elected this month in the South
,
which actually says a lot about the alleged continuing need
for Section 5 of the VRA. Allen West will represent Boca
Raton, Florida, which is

82
percent white. And Tim Scott, backed by Tea Party
activists, won in a

75
percent white district headquartered in Charleston,
South Carolina—the

ideological heart
of the
Confederacy
in the 1860s.

But this
is the 2010s.

Nevertheless, forty are Democrats,
generally of less than edifying quality:

Maxine Waters,


Alcee Hastings
,

Bobby Rush
, and the like. (One reason the MainStream
Media boosted Obama so

shamelessly
in 2007-08 is that, for all his
shortcomings, he`s a

much classier product
than the

typical black politician
of the 21st Century.)

Similarly, the strident Gutierrez, a
former

cabdriver / radical activist
, has been more effective at
convincing gullible reporters that amnesty is the most
important issue for Hispanic voters than he has been at
convincing Obama and other Washington insiders that his

ceaseless threats of racial revenge
for not prioritizing
“comprehensive immigration reform” are credible.

If
Gutierrez had to run in a district with substantial numbers
of white and black voters, he wouldn`t (and couldn`t) be
such an angry extremist on illegal immigration.

In contrast, with the

retirement
of Roland Burris, the notorious

Governor Blagojevich
`s notorious appointee in Illinois,
not one of the 100 U.S. Senators will be black.

And out of the 50 U.S. governors, only one
is black: Massachusetts`

Deval Patrick,
who was stage-managed in 2006 by David
Axelrod as a beta version of Obama.

Clearly, we need a new, improved Voting
Rights Act to redraw

racist state boundaries
to make some states majority
minority! (No!—on second thoughts, let`s not give them
ideas.)

What seems to be happening here: the VRA
helps impose a glass ceiling on black advancement to the
Senate and governors` mansions. It increases the number of
majority minority districts, so the safe career path for an
ambitious young minority politician is to be a


“race man”.

But that`s a bad basis for later appealing to an entire,
mostly white, state.

Obama`s
own career frustrations could serve as a case study for the
misguidedness of the VRA. A
“race man”
by ambition,
but not by nature or nurture,
Obama launched his career on the South Side of Chicago by
the almost comically inapt stratagem of publishing a
150,000-word meditation on

his story of race and inheritance.
Nobody outside of
Hyde Park read it. Fortunately for Obama, he had a less
literary Plan B: having
all his black opponents in the 1996 state senate election
disqualified.

In the 2000 House primary, Obama finally
ran in his first competitive election. Former Black Panther
Bobby Rush
mocked
him
for not being

black enough.
Obama managed to carry the district`s
Irish neighborhoods, but he was humiliated by black voters.
This crushing of his dream from his father—to be

black enough to be a black leader
—drove Obama into

a long depression
, rather like what he seems to be going
through now.

But after about a year, he snapped out of
it. He then

gerrymandered his own state senate district
to contain more whites
—a
rare choice for a black elected official. And then he set
his sights on winning a statewide (i.e., mostly white)
election.

In short, the current
VRA-driven
majority minority redistricting system nurtures very few
Obamas. And that`s not good for the Democrats, who are in
danger of coming to be seen over the decades as

the Black Party.
In the new House, blacks will make up
over 20 percent of all Democrats. And most of them

aren`t good advertisements
for the Democratic Party
outside

their own contrived districts.

A final thought: the VRA`s tendency to
foster political segregation isn`t good for, you know,
the country….

The
funny thing is that Obama is smart enough and cold-blooded
enough to grasp the advantages to himself, his party, and
his country of calling for reforming the VRA on colorblind
grounds to reflect the post-racist realities of the 21st
Century.

But
nobody in the political class will ever even ask him about
it.

[Steve Sailer (email
him) is


movie critic
for


The American Conservative
.

His website

www.iSteve.blogspot.com

features his daily blog. His new book,

AMERICA`S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA`S
"STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE", is
available


here
.]