This Martian Life: A Column
By SEAN WARDWELL
One of the real tragedies to come out of the recently ended session of the Texas Legislature is the failure of State Sen. Jeff Wentworth’s (R-San Antonio) bill to create a bipartisan redistricting board.
Granted, reporters tend to have a soft spot for Wentworth because of his efforts to establish sunshine laws, but one doesn’t have to look very far back to see just how ugly redistricting battles are.
If anyone recalls, in 2003 Democrats left the state to break quorum after Tom DeLay (R-Good Riddance) decided to unleash chaos in order to pick up a few more seats for his party in congress. In the process, districts were created that made no geographic sense, or really any sense of any kind.
Wentworth’s bill would have taken the process out of the hands of partisan interests and, instead, entrusted a citizen’s commission, equally divided on partisan lines, to handle the process.
Like many things in Austin, however, a good idea encounters a lot of prejudice, especially from one’s own party. Eleven Republicans banded together to kill the bill in the senate for the second time.
This column isn’t going to bash Republicans though. Honestly, I find both parties equally worthless and that’s the real problem. I really don’t believe either side cares about the people, the state or the country in general. They just care about winning. You? You’re just a prop to be used in a campaign ad.
Redistricting and representation is too important to be left to people whose sole ambition seems to be screwing their opponents. Ideally, it should never have been left in the hands of people who need to get re-elected. That’s like giving the fox the combination to the henhouse lock.
Hypothetically, they are the representatives of the people and should be trusted as such. When push comes to shove though, its not hard to see where their loyalties truly lie.
If all this sounds cynical, it’s probably because it is. I wish it weren’t so. I’d love to live in a world where our elected representatives, in masse, could be trusted with something that is technically within their purview. Individually, many of them are good and decent people. Get them together under a partisan banner though and it all becomes a very different scene.
What’s even worse are the justifications for such poor, childish behavior. The partisan rhetoric surrounding the most recent redistricting debacle had all the subtlety of the “two-minutes hate” from Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. The parties spoke and their minions eagerly took up the chants. The truth is that Republican’s weren’t standing up for the will of the people and the Democrats weren’t the victims they made themselves out to be.
It was never about the people. It was about saving their own hides to preserve a meaningless majority. No matter who drives the car, it goes to the same place anyway – a place where real problems go unheeded while marquee social wedges ensure enough people keep drinking the partisan Kool-Aid.
Wentworth’s bill should have been passed. It was a good bill that could have addressed a very real problem. San Marcos, in the last ten years, has been in three congressional districts. It’s difficult to establish a relationship with your representative when they have to keep changing the phone numbers.
Instead, I suppose we can go back to the “real issues,” like gay marriage, voter identification and welfare mothers. As the bard once said in Macbeth, “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”