McNeilly: Lawmakers, leave redistricting maps alone
Here they go again. Left-wing extremists are back at it in Lansing this year with four — count ’em, four — fresh attempts to rewrite Michigan’s legislative district boundaries, to break apart communities, and gerrymander districts to benefit candidates.
It’s become a tired and regular refrain from out-of-touch liberals. When they fail to win at the ballot box, they try to retroactively rewrite the rules.
Michigan’s legislative and congressional district maps may not be perfect, but they’re significantly closer than they’d be if win-at-all-cost partisans had their way.
Here’s how redistricting works right now:
For decades, map drawers elected by Michigan voters have been required to conform to what are known as the “Apol Standards,” an exhaustive, nonpartisan set of rules and regulations that ensure boundaries put communities first, not political parties.
Districts must be compact and connected. They are explicitly required to be drawn to conform to the Voting Rights Act. County boundaries must be respected, with district lines dividing county and municipal boundaries only when absolutely necessary to ensure districts include populations as equal in size as possible. If a county line must be broken, the fewest number of full cities or townships possible must be shifted.
The standards have led to legislatures featuring Republican majorities and Democratic majorities. What’s more, proposed redistricting boundaries can be vetoed by the governor, whose party has often differed with that of the legislative majority.
And if map drawers don’t do their job well, voters can hold them accountable and vote them out of office.
Instead of conforming to these nonpartisan, common sense standards, the authoritarian left thinks they should dictate.
This year’s efforts to change the redistricting process aren’t nonpartisan, and they’re not being conducted by good government advocates. They are a partisan political game being run top-to-bottom by the Democratic Party’s far-left, well-financed bosses. Look closely:
First, there’s a lawsuit aimed at forcing the state to redraw its legislative district boundaries before the 2018 elections. The suit is being led by Mark Brewer, one of the state’s most prominent Democratic mercenary campaign trial lawyers and a former Michigan Democratic Party boss.
Two Democratic state representatives, Jon Hoadley of Kalamazoo and Jeremy Moss of Southfield, rated among the state’s most liberal, have introduced legislation to take redistricting out of the hands of voters and hand it to a commission set-up by Democrats. Their commission would then abandon nonpartisan, county and municipal boundary standards, drawing districts instead based on ambiguous, undefined “communities of interest.”
Meanwhile, former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mark Schauer is working with a high profile new organization called the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. The committee is headed by former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, who in January gave a speech hyperventilating that his committee would be, “the center of Democratic rebuilding ... (and) Democrats’ main hope to roll back Republican gains in state legislatures.”
Now comes a “nonpartisan” organization called Voters Not Politicians with their own push for changes to the state’s redistricting process. VNP bills itself as an organization made up of volunteers who have never been “part of the political game.”
An interesting way to describe the committee, given that it was founded by Katie Fahey, a hardline Hillary Clinton partisan who made a splash in the news when she flew to New York to attend Clinton’s anticipated election night victory party.
“My disappointment makes me not trust the rest of the world,” Fahey told New York’s ABC 7, after Clinton’s overwhelming defeat.
As for her redistricting organization, Fahey refuses to disclose who is funding it. For a supposedly non-partisan campaign neophyte, she’s already mastered the art of the shadowy left-wing special interest group organized for power grabs without transparency.
Reports of “nonpartisan” redistricting reform efforts? Fake News 101.
Greg McNeilly is chairman of the Michigan Freedom Fund.