By Hassan Giordano, GCOMM Media
(BALTIMORE - October 14, 2011) - Political redistricting and gerrymandering is as old as the inception of the political process and the parties in which sought control of the people. Therefore, it certainly surprises no one when we see governmental leaders eyeing the best way to shape a federal, state or local map to ensure a greater turnout for victory within their Party. However, when the Party in control is made up of close to 52% of the state’s minorities, yet they still introduce a map that alienates those who are the majority voting block in their own Party; well that is just asinine – unless of course they feel they can do it, and get away with it?
Well that seems to be exactly the case in the State of Maryland, where you have a Democratic Governor whose party is made up of 45% African Americans, and close to 7% other minorities predominately Hispanic; yet the ‘unofficial’ state party leader has chosen to ignore the fact that the state’s 9% growth was entirely made up of minorities, and instead submitted a map based on his future political aspirations – positioning districts based on assuring his Party’s Congressional dominance. However, even with the political finger-pointing and disgust within in their own Party, and with an alternative map submitted that strengthens the minority power throughout the state by adding another ‘majority minority’ district to the two that already exist; we have yet to see, or hear, any member of the state’s 43-member Legislative Black Caucus stand up for what is right!
However, while the LBC held three public meetings regarding the upcoming redistricting process earlier in the year and even submitted their own version of a fair and equitable map to the Governor’s Redistricting Advisory Committee, they have been silent to date regarding the map submitted by GRAC, on behalf of the Governor. A map, inconsistent with the state’s growing minority population, yet based solely on the Governor’s attempt at securing seven Democratic Congressional Districts, of the eight that currently exist. There has been absolutely NO black legislator who has stood up to the Governor’s attempt to water-down the 4th congressional district, which is currently represented by Donna Edwards, one of only two African American congressional reps; except of course Edwards herself. Even the state’s other black representative, Elijah Cummings seems to have sold his soul to the Party, endorsing the Governor’s map and even going so far as to say that this map would make his district one of the strongest black district’s in the country?
This is no surprise to many who have witnessed the political backstabbing of a Party who chose to douse their Democratic colleague Kweisi Mfume with rumor-based gasoline, only to see his efforts of becoming Maryland’s first African American elected to a statewide office go up in flames. Why? Because the white male dominance of the Party would rather see a good old boy Congressman by the name of Ben Cardin, regain the power position left by longtime Senator Paul Sarbanes; instead of having some unpredictable black guy get it, who just might represent the interests of the people, before the party. Cardin, who held office for decades with no apparent credible results seen in most communities outside of his own, compared to a man who was at one time one of the most powerful black leaders in Congress and across this country, as the head of the oldest civil rights organization known to America – the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
It is no secret as to how then Congressman Mfume stepped up and secured the lines of the 7th Congressional District in the early 1990’s, to ensure that his district at the time remained predominately African American; only to see his protégé Cummings, take a back seat to both the Glendening dilution of 2001, as well as now the O’Malley trickery of 2011. Thus we have a district once secure in the fact that we knew who would hold that seat even if Cummings was no longer there, to what we see today; an increasingly white power structure taking over the district via Howard County. It seems as though the Democratic Party would love nothing better than to dilute the black political strength in order to subsidize the white male dominance we currently see – and if left up to them, should very well get use too!
Take for instance the current political structure of the Party, while keeping in mind that minority’s are the dominant majority currently amongst Md. Democrats. We have a white Governor, Comptroller, Treasurer, Senate President, Speaker of the House, Party Chairman and absolutely no real black official with power enough to effect real change today! As a matter of fact, we Maryland had no black statewide representative until the Republicans chose to run Michael Steele as Lt. Governor in 2002, in which made it “‘hip’ to have a token black as your running mate,” so says one high-ranking Democratic official. Yet this is the Party that you adhere to? The Party in which you as a people, live and breathe as the ‘savior’ of black folk? Well than, how come not one member of the Party has introduced a map consistent with the growing minority population, the likes in which was presented by a Republican state senator who represents Baltimore and Carroll Counties – Joe Getty? Why are you content on allowing Thomas ‘Mike’ Miller and the party elite to dupe you into being satisfied with two districts already held by blacks for almost two decades now, instead of demanding a third congressional district be drawn for minorities?
How do you even allow someone to redraw the fourth district, which has only been represented by blacks since 1993 with the election of Al Wynn, yet is has the largest black middle class in the country? Redistricting is based on the continual population shift calculated by census data collected once a decade and then submitted to our elected officials. Therefore, the lines drawn this year will effectively have a long-term effect on the growing communities we see throughout the state, whether white, black, Latino or otherwise. How can we as a population allow a Governor with an obvious ‘zero tolerance’ for blacks, i.e. the thousands of blacks unjustly incarcerated while he was Mayor of Baltimore to now the thousands of blacks subsidized for the white political structure and his political ambitions; draw a map that dilutes the political power we’ve witnessed based on an increasing population of participants in a Party that has allowed for his political rise to power? For this is the only thing minorities have in this country that is equal to whites, for housing, employment, health care, economic stability and wealth and more clearly has us at a continued disadvantage; therefore how do you allow them to take the one thing you can use to your advantage to try and level the playing field?
While many are clearly upset and ready to speak out, quiet a few are scared of the possible political retribution by the Governor and the powers-that-be in the House and the Senate, when their legislative lines are redrawn this November and are submitted for approval before the Maryland General Assembly this January? Yet sometimes you have to consider the fact that Martin O’Malley and the appointed leaders of the Party did not elect you, the constituents of Maryland and your district did; and trust me, any citizen, white, black, poor or rich, can respect someone who stands up against the party machine based on principle!
At least one party member has spoken out against this atrocity; to no ones surprise state delegate Jill P. Carter responded to this issue by stating:
“We are tasked with an extremely important responsibility in ensuring that congressional districts fairly reflect the racial demographics of the state. The Governor’s map does not; therefore it must be modified to reflect such growth in minorities across the state period! There are three districts that consist of minority-majority voting populations, and equity dictates that those districts have a representative government, as articulated in the Voting Rights Act our predecessors fought and died for. Fair and equitable representation for all people in Maryland is non-negotiable! Therefore, this is one area where we simply cannot allow anyone, including the governor, to put self-serving politics before people!”
While a Republican member of the state senate has offered a map conducive to the political power gained by the state's minorities, the state's GOP - the Party blacks began their political dominance with before the civil rights trick coupled with the Goldwater 'southern strategy' - have not supported such a map, offering their own version that doesn't come close to offering minorities what they deserve either - rather only protecting their two current GOP members.
This is one the main reasons why Independents (unaffiliated) voters are the fastest growing registered group of voters seen throughout the country, and here in the State of Maryland! Faith without action is fruitless, and the People of this State have elected you to do what is right for them, not what’s best for your political party and its power in the future! Therefore, on Monday, when the ‘Special Session of 2011’ begins, I would like to see who stands up and defends the interests of Maryland’s minorities and the principles of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
**This conservative commentary is based on my observations of the current Congressional Redisctricting Process, to learn more about the process and the details in which I speak you can go to the following to listen, view or read about the process at: Marc Steiner Show, Bmorenews and of course the Baltimore Independent Examiner.