Or at least scream: it turns out that the redistricting map for Michigan signed off on by Republican governor Rick Snyder last week seriously discombobulates long-time Democrat and House Judiciary Ranking Member John Conyers. The new map (which, incidentally, handles Michigan’s loss of a Congressional seat by effectively eliminating Democrat Gary Peters’ seat and making the rest more party-friendly) pretty much took Conyer’s MI-14 seat and redrew it until he had roughly 20% of the same constituents that he started off with.
If you’re wondering why the Republicans think that they can get away with that – particularly since Conyers is an African-American with a majority-minority district – it’s because the Michigan GOP was very careful in drawing this district (and, apparently, MI-13). As I understand it, the new district is in point of fact drawn to reflect the racial gerrymandering requirements of the Voting Rights Act: which is to say, it’s still majority-minority. It’s just no longer friendly to Conyers specifically… which is not the Republican party’s problem. Or the courts’. Or Michigan’s, really. Or possibly even the Democratic party’s: Conyers may have run unopposed in the 2010 primary, but that’s apparently not going to happen now…
Speaking more generally: this sort of thing should show people the pitfalls of racial gerrymandering in the first place – even when it ends up benefiting your side. Conyers is bawling because he has to actually participate in the democratic process for the first time in decades – and even then he’s just going to have to worry about the primary, not the general election. Not to mention that Conyers’ likely opponents should not have had to wait until the GOP was in a position to redraw the map in order to get a shot at the seat. In other words: while this situation is amusing, it’s also an affront to both republican and democratic principles (note lack of capitalization). Put in still other words, this situation shows how Congressional races are often reflective of neither popular will nor good governance.
Moe Lane (crosspost)