Ben Smith of Politico has an important piece about a single break out session at the Nutroots convention. As much as I despise liberal activists, they are good at what they do. They are often light years ahead of conservative activists.
This is why I found it interesting that Ben Smith, who covers a smorgasbord of topics, would write a full length piece on one break out session. The topic was redistricting and the liberals on the march. As Matt Glazer, editor in chief of Burnt Orange, proclaimed:
“This is a ‘Remember the Alamo’ cry, a rallying cry… We’ve been thinking about this for years.”
How many conservative activists have been thinking about redistricting with any seriousness for years? Probably not too many. Most people know the shenanigans associated with redistricting, but what caught Smith’s eye is the attention to new technology and new forms of activism. According to Smith:
This time around, that kind of approach isn’t going to fly. While legislators will continue to drive the process in the 36 states where legislatures will draw congressional maps, there will be unprecedented pressures on lawmakers because of the widespread availability of map-making software and census and voting data and the rise of politically inclined bloggers and online activists who aren’t tied to traditional interest groups.
Those bloggers, armed with Census data, software and the collaborative input of their readers, are not going to stand for redistricting plans generated behind closed doors by a few lawmakers and political consultants — they are going to be designing and introducing their own plans into the debate and using their sites to rally support for maps that reflect their own partisan goals.
Where do some of the most vile radicals lurk? Many lurk around Annenberg Centers across the country, which is interesting because Smith provides this link from the USC Annenberg Center to support his article. It’s called the Redistricting Game and many liberal activists know how this game is played.
Legislatures, of course, retain the power to enact new maps. But they will be facing a universe of political activists who will follow the process closely and are armed with publishing platforms [see this, for example]. And these new stakeholders — a group that largely did not exist in the last round of redistricting in 2001 and 2002 — are going to be making a lot of noise.
The Netroots Nation session, for example, was teeming with online activists asking sophisticated questions about the more notable partisan gerrymanders currently in place. At least one-third or more of the attendees, according to a show of hands, were from Texas — a reflection of the intense interest in redistricting among Texas progressives, who are still smarting from getting steamrolled the last time the legislature redrew congressional lines.
This is nuts and bolts activism. This is how the real radicals play. I lament the lack of concern that conservatives have shown over the Census. There was an opportunity for conservatives to get involved, but there was no real clarion call.
But there is one thing that the Nutroots are forgetting. While they will control the Census, they will not control the state houses. There will be a reckoning in 2010 and we will have he upper hand. So, thanks for the advice kids. We’ll be sure to use it when we control a majority of the states in 2011. Suckers.