Districting Dilemmas & The Fatal Conceit

RALEIGH – With the Left’s new legal front opened on legislative maps for the 2020 elections, redistricting is back in the news and the media is pushing the notion that “fair maps” mean maps that result in more Democratic representation.

The courts issuing opinions to boost the fortunes of specific political parties that are down on their luck is not, and never was, a feature of our constitutional system. Neither was it ever to have “independent” bodies determining political maps guided by the overriding objective of augmenting one representation at the expense of another in the name of “fairness.”

Even honest efforts to eliminate partisanship in the map drawing process implicitly, or explicitly seek to even out representation among the two parties – a fatal conceit.

Government generally is not ‘responsive, accountable, or open to change,’ but of all the branches of government, it is the legislature that is the most responsive, accountable, and open to changes in public sentiment.  The legislative branch is constitutionally closest to the people and the legislature has been the venue for map making for this reason.

Why, then, is the legislative majority drawing maps that reinforce its mandate, as every legislative majority before them has done when given the chance, so constitutionally objectionable? The truth is that it’s not. While the Left will push smear campaigns about racist Republicans disenfranchising minorities, the reality is it is entirely politically motivated on the premise that Democrats are unfairly crowded out via elections.

Ostensibly, the Left cannot win elections, so they will “sue until blue,” even if it means upending constitutional checks and balances in their quest for political power. It’s not “fair” that they aren’t elected to power, after all. As last week demonstrated, though, the Left CAN win elections in the very same districts they are claiming gerrymandering prevents them doing so. Just as Republicans were elected to majorities on maps drawn by Democrats, in a political change of course for the State, the opposite is equally possible as well. The people will decide what ‘equality’ in political representation looks like; that’s why it’s called representative government.

Even so, there is something to be said for exploring different map constructions, not because they even out the parties fortunes, but because they look more accurately on what geographic and ultimately cultural commonalities make a district.

Long Leaf Politics took a quick stab at the thought exercise of what districts ‘should’ look like, and though it evens out the parties’ respective share of seats, it doesn’t make it a goal.

“What should the goal of redistricting be?

For years, it’s been to give one party the maximum possible advantage. This probably isn’t ideal — especially now that self-sorting and technology make gerrymandering brutally effective.

Gerrymandering has been back in the news after the 2018 elections, which saw Republicans maintain their 10-3 advantage in North Carolina’s congressional delegation. Renewed interest has been given to the simulated district map drawn by a panel of retired judges convened by Duke University — designed to create a balance between Democrats and Republicans.[…]”

This is the fatal flaw in any approach to drawing maps. The goal should be to make the legislative map drawing duties the most responsive to the people within the framework of the constitution, not to arbitrarily counter the legislative voice of those same people.

LLP leaves that variable out and tries to look at it more appropriately:

Using the Dave’s Redistricting program, I made my own map lumping together cohesive parts of the state. It’s not as clean as I’d like it to be because each district needs to have roughly the same population.

To be sure, the population numbers the program uses are a little dated. But they’re a good reference point. Here’s my map.

  • Metro Charlotte
  • Metro Wake County
  • Tidewater
  • Cape Fear region
  • Mountains
  • Foothills
  • Charlotte suburbs
  • Greater Winston-Salem
  • Greater Greensboro
  • Greater Durham-Chapel Hill
  • Western Charlotte suburbs
  • Western Wake suburbs
  • Northeastern coastal plain

Not a bad way to put a map together, primarily because it forms the individual districts via natural and social distinctions that would make sense to most people living within them each.

Alas, these considerations are not the kind that motivate the recent lawsuit from the Left to change the maps via judicial diktat.

Read more on the make up of the LLP map here.

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