Thursday, January 24, 2013

GOP Redistricting Push in Virginia Aims at Hurting Blacks

The twin pillars of GOP policy: racism and religious based bigotry
Proving yet again that it is a modern day incarnation of the Klux Klux Klan, the Virginia GOP's effort to radically alter state legislative districts to favor GOP candidates - gerrymander the districts is perhaps too kind of a description - would further dilute the already weak voting strength of black Virginians.  It goes hand in glove with GOP voter ID efforts aimed at removing as many blacks and non-white minorities from voter lists as possible and is symptomatic of the GOP agenda to keep both Virginia and America as a whole "white and Christian" - or at least keep political control and privilege in the hands of white conservatives.   A piece in the New York Times looks at this racist and anti-democratic effort.. 

On Monday, one of Virginia’s state senators attended the inauguration: Henry L. Marsh III, a longtime civil rights lawyer, who played hooky to witness a milestone for an African-American president. 

The same day, Republicans back in the state capital, Richmond, took advantage of his absence to win a party-line vote, 20 to 19, to redraw electoral maps in a way that Democrats say dilute African-Americans’ voting strength. 

The move not only has Democrats howling about a power grab, it has also been criticized by Virginia’s Republican governor and lieutenant governor. 

Democrats are furious that the map also dilutes the party’s power by removing blacks from as many as a dozen districts; and under the guise of bowing to the Voting Rights Act, they say, it would pack blacks in fewer districts over all.  “This was nothing more than what I call plantation politics,” said Senator Donald McEachin, the chairman of the Democratic caucus. 

One displeased official is Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, who needs Democratic support as he seeks to enact ambitious proposals on transportation and education in his last year in office. “This is not an issue that I advocated,” Mr. McDonnell told reporters on Tuesday. “I certainly don’t think that’s a good way to do business.” 

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling also opposed his party’s move. “He is concerned that it could create a hyperpartisan atmosphere,” said Mr. Bolling’s spokeswoman, Ibbie Hedrick.

Senator Richard L. Saslaw, the Democratic minority leader, used an expletive to describe Republican concerns for black voters. He said Republicans blocked efforts in 2011 to create a new Congressional district with a high percentage of blacks. 

Democrats say the extensive changes passed by Republicans, which are now before the legislature’s lower chamber, the House of Delegates, where Republicans hold a supermajority, violate the state’s Constitution. They foresee a lengthy court fight if the map is adopted. Before then, however, it must get past the governor, not a sure bet at all. 

As for Mr. Marsh, who missed the vote, he rejected any notion that Republicans were acting in African-Americans’ interests. He called the plan “shameful.” 

As a former GOP city committee member myself some years ago, I now wonder when city and county GOP committees will begin handing out white robes and hoods prior to starting their meetings.  The GOP has truly become something disgusting and openly racist.

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