This is guide of talking points with family, friends, and neighbors to help you frame/start a conversation, a post, or an email about why you feel Gerrymandering in Texas is bad - and needs to end. Feel free to modify this so it sounds more like you.
There is some state legislation that is currently being discussed that I think you’d be interested in. It’s not the bathroom bill, sanctuary cities - it’s about redistricting reform. I am excited that these bills are in both the House and Senate because I feel strongly that redistricting reform is what’s needed for our state. These bills would create a bipartisan redistricting commission that has balanced representation from both political parties.
[[Like a choose your own adventure, you have your options from here…]]
- I believe that the most sacred principle of American democracy is that fair elections are supposed to allow the voters to choose their representatives, but Texans have long been denied true choice because elected officials from both parties have historically been able to draw district lines to choose their voters. The current legislative redistricting process has the state legislature drawing the maps but the Governor has veto-authority. If he doesn’t like them - or doesn’t see his majority retaining control - he sends them back or to a committee made up of the Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House, land commissioner, comptroller, and Attorney General. Those are all GOP members and strikes me as very partisan! Even if it were different parties in power, it doesn’t make it right, putting Texans at risk of not being represented fairly. I believe creating an independent redistricting commission is such an important and necessary first step towards restoring the public’s faith in the state legislature and the political process in Texas.
- You can see partisan redistricting in the absurdly comical district maps that look like a bunch of crazy ink blots and make it difficult for many Texans to even figure out who represents them. The boundaries of districts (determined by redistricting) define how you will be represented. Will your community be given a united voice or fragmented into little pieces and left with the effect of having no say?
The more sinister side of partisan redistricting is its’ use as a weapon to enforce party discipline among rank-and-file members. The very threat of redistricting can make a legislator more receptive to party leadership than to the will of his or her own constituents. It gives incumbent congressmen what they want for their political security instead of giving Texans the fair and equal representation they deserve. Many other issues addressed at a state level touch close to home – like education, roads, and safety. When Texans gather to discuss these state issues, I have to wonder who will speak on our behalf?
This redistricting problem underscores how the same partisan politicians, who fail to provide leadership are re-elected, and why Americans are losing faith in their government. As long as legislators are drawing the district lines, the impulse to ‘gerrymander’ districts will be irresistible.
- Texas’s legislature has one of the highest incumbency rates in the nation – not because voters are happy with the quality of their governance - but because legislative districts are drawn to suppress the kind of competition that might otherwise allow talented newcomers to challenge the status quo. These carefully redistricted districts create ‘safe districts’ for the incumbents that deprive voters of choice at the polls. Any legislator considering statewide office should want to demonstrate any interest in a fair, transparent democracy that serves the needs of all Texas citizens, rather than a system that carves up communities for the benefit of one party.
I ask for your help to calling, emailing, or writing your state representative and senator. I’m normally not very politically active but our representatives need to hear from you that you want an end to gerrymandering in Texas! I want to see Texans represented fairly and I think you’ll agree with me how important this is.
To look up your state representative or senator by putting in your address at this link http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx