Anti-Hispanic Gerrymandering Struck Down in Texas
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott vows to fight on against Hispanic voters.
Even as the Republican convention coverage makes a big show of big names in the way of Hispanic leadership, a federal appeals court in Washington struck down the new Texas legislature districts designed by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature for gross violation of the Voting Rights Act. While names like Marco Rubio, Nevada governor Brian Sandoval, New Mexico governor Susanna Martinez and Texas candidate for Senate Ted Cruz bask in the spotlight, the party’s real reaction to swelling Latino voter rolls is all about vote suppression.
Texas must undergo federal scrutiny of its redistricting plan because of a well-documented history of discrimination against racial and linguistic minorities. And the three-judge panel unanimously agreed that Texas was at it again with its newest plan.
“The only explanation Texas offers for this pattern [of minority vote dilution] is ‘coincidence’. But if this is coincidence, it was a striking one indeed. It is difficult to believe that pure chance would lead to such results,” wrote the court.
So what is it then, “big tent,” or legal roadblocks? The court’s decision offers a sharp rebuke against Governor Rick Perry and the entire legislature. The thought that in the age of ALEC this is an isolated impetus is indefensible. Without federal court intervention, this becomes a national strategy to compartmentalize the burgeoning Hispanic vote in inner city-type districts stripped of business corridors and other elements of the power infrastructure in the same manner that has historically done such a great job of minimizing the power of the black vote. And, sure enough, black Democrats were also the victims of discrimination in the plan the court just struck down.
According to an article by David Savage of the Times Washington Bureau, predominately black districts in Houston and Dallas were stripped of their “economic guts,” as those areas were reassigned to Republican-held districts.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot, a Republican, says he will appeal, further clarifying Texas’ commitment to disenfranchisement of the Hispanic and minority vote. A growing Hispanic population is largely responsible for the four new House of Representative seats allotted to Texas. Under the plan as reviewed, they would have gained not one of them, according to the judges. Two of the three judges on that panel were appointed by George W. Bush.
Good ol’ Texas. Its motto might be “migrate to Texas, where your sweat is our gain.” One wonders to what degree the national Hispanic audience is being offered coverage of what amounts to a Republican strategy to counternavigate the overwhelming demographic shifts it faces by new age poll tax strategies and gerrymandering. It makes one wonder about the party’s nearly universal commitment to new voter ID laws in the face of overwhelming evidence that voter fraud is nearly nonexistent. If voter suppression has a target, my bet is that it is urban Hispanics even more than the mobile student vote or the inconsistent black vote.
That whole bit about Hispanics being Republicans but they just don’t know it yet, as espoused by Republican icon Ronald Reagan, while a good sound bite, just ain’t true. Republicans claim Hispanics share a tendency toward small business formation, religion, and traditional family values with the largely white, middle-aged male party. The only problem is that the types of businesses Hispanics tend to form are the type that real Republican business communities would love to bulldoze to oblivion. And the family values valued by Hispanics are the type threatened by draconian anti-immigration schemes hatched by Republicans in borders states like Texas. And Hispanics are not so much into evangelical, mega-church, suburbanized get-rich-now wing of religious conservatism so popular in Texas. As to the Tea Party, uh uh; Hispanics often recognize that they are well served by government programs as long as they are not aimed at deporting them.
No, the whole Republican-Hispanic relationship is not a storybook marriage. It isn’t even a reasonable shacking up. And Hispanics would do well to observe what just went down in Texas before they dump the Dems and throw in their redlined, gerrymandered lots with the grand old party of Rick Perry and a discredited bag of party tricks that would confine their rocky footholds in electoral politics into crappy little ghetto districts in Texas.