The following letters are in response to “Public pans GOP maps proposed for redistricting” (Aug. 23).
Don’t repeat history
As a historian of Nazi Germany, I’m not worried about a Nazi-style takeover in Raleigh. But I did find the clear lack of trust in our government – as expressed in testimony at Tuesday’s redistricting hearing – both disturbing and familiar. The textbooks say Hitler destroyed democracy when he seized power in 1933, but that is wrong. Politicians killed it slowly starting in the late 1920s, when they put partisan self-interest ahead of the common good. Even when unemployment climbed to 30 percent in Germany, party warfare produced gridlock. Extremes flourished. The moderate middle shrank.
In Raleigh Tuesday, speakers appealed to our legislators in moral terms, asking them to restore “decency and integrity” by promoting “fair competition” and “not stacking the deck.” But besides being immoral, gerrymandering is dangerous. When legislators are confident their party will win in the general election, primaries become paramount. Low voter turnout and extremist activism tip the scales. Four in five North Carolinians don’t believe legislators should draw their own districts. Reject the new maps. File for an extension. Revisit HB 200, in which a nonpartisan commission does the redistricting. Democracy functions best when the healthy middle is alive and well.
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Map hearings ‘sham’
I have just returned from the public hearing on state legislative redistricting maps in Raleigh. What a sham hearing it was. Hundreds, both in Raleigh and throughout the state, turned out to voice their alarm about these gerrymandered voting districts. The committee did not present any explanations nor data concerning these revised maps. As we listened to residents voice their concerns, we were made to sit quietly without any response to any of the comments.
Throughout all these speakers, of which at least 99 percent were condemning the gerrymandering that illegally took place to create these districts, the committee members sat smugly on the dais, looking unconcerned, disinterested and bored, frequently looking at their phones. It was so disheartening to witness. These Republican white males have no intention of making these voting districts unbiased and lawful.
As one eloquent speaker said, it is time for these men to stop being politicians and start being statesman. But after witnessing this mockery of democracy, I have little hope it will happen with these legislators. Concerned residents must turn out to vote these people out of office. Voters must select their representatives, not the other way around, which is the heart of gerrymandering.
Map hearings ‘delusion’
I attended the hearing at the Legislative Office Building in Raleigh Monday afternoon. My husband had prepared a short statement he intended to read at the hearing, expressing his dismay that there was insufficient information made available to the public to be able to offer informed input. The only information that had been disseminated were maps on the internet which were visually impossible to read. The printed maps distributed at the hearing were clearer, but still totally without relevant information concerning how the districts had changed and how the population in those districts was now more fair.
In addition to the Raleigh site, six other locations with the same format were being streamed into Room 643 where three people from each of these seven sites were each given three minutes to speak. It took more than an hour to go through one round. At this rate, it would have taken well into the morning if every person who registered to speak were to have a chance at the microphone. It became quickly apparent that this “hearing” had been carefully planned and orchestrated for the sole purpose of deluding the public into believing they had input into this important decision, while carefully arranging it to be exactly that: a delusion. Rather than be subjected to this continuing insult, we left.
Let the people draw maps
The redistricting process is a farce, and everyone knows it, even the majority party. It’s clear they have no interest or desire to listen to the people, let alone to draw fair and impartial maps. They’re absolutely not interested in changing to an independent, nonpartisan redistricting process.
Lest anyone think I’m picking on Republicans, the Democrats are no better. They’ve had ample time and the resources to produce alternative maps but they have not. Instead, they preach about unfairness and suppressing the vote, and file lawsuits. Democrats claim Republicans want to suppress the vote. Republicans accuse Democrats of voter fraud. But the real voter suppression, the actual voter fraud is this gerrymandering process. The people need to take charge.
The solution is simple – but radical. All Democrats and Republicans who are as fed up with this farce as I am should make their voices heard in the only way party leaders will hear; change your registration to unaffiliated. Then either run for a seat or get behind some other independent voter who will. Join the Libertarian Party, or work with the Green Party or Constitution Party.
The only way the people are going to get districts free from partisan politics and not drawn to favor any party, any candidate, any lawmaker, or any special interest group – districts which embody the ideal of one-person-one vote – is if the people draw them.
Former chair, Libertarian Party of North Carolina