October Festival Guide

HOLMBERG: Political gerrymandering? Imagine if sports teams redrew the boundaries.

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)–Virginia Democratic Senators are raising more fuss than West Virginia coal strikers after Monday’s surprise redistricting vote with a key senator away at the presidential inauguration.

Last year it was the Republican’s  so-called “war on women,” said Sen. Donald McEachin (D. 9th District). “Now it’s the war on voters.”

Sen. Dick Saslaw (D. 35th District) said it’s the worst stunt he’s seen in his 33 sessions.

“I’ve never seen dealings like this,” Saslaw told CBS-6. “I’ve never seen carrying on like this. They purposely waited until (democratic Sen.) Henry Marsh was gone to the inauguration to pull this stunt.”

With Marsh gone the Republicans had a one vote majority in the Senate and whipped through modifications in the 2011 redistricting plan that would add one more black majority district but also give the GOP a better chance of gaining control of the Senate. It also split fewer counties, supporters of the measure said.

Of course, the Democrats cried foul. “That is plantation politics,” McEachin said in the Senate chambers Tuesday.

But this redrawing of voting districts to influence election results and gain power has been a favorite stunt for both parties practically since this nation began.

In 1779, Patrick Henry redrew Virginia’s 5th District in an attempt to give his party an edge, and it hasn’t stopped.

It’s always been ugly. Highly partisan.

On the Senate floor Tuesday, Sen. Tommy Norment (R. 3rd District), dismissed the chest pounding by democrats. “There are those who would like to sanctimoniously cloak themselves in a pious political shroud . . . “

The voting rights act of 1965 led to some crazily shaped districts in order to give minorities more representation, but, really, partisanship is paramount. Which is really why Virginia has only a handful of black Senators – the party is more important.

It’s amazing this kind of  redistricting is even legal. It’s the political equivalent of doping, only some of the stunts can make Lance Armstrong look clean.

In modern times, this legal cheating (the Supreme Court has said it’s fine) happens after every 10-year census, complete with frothy rhetoric, and, during  most cycles, lawsuits, which will happen this time if the governor signs it (which he won’t if he’s serious about a national office).

So what would gerrymandering look like if we applied it to sports teams?

Okay, we’ll just make the other team’s goalposts much narrower and see how that works for them. Football fields wouldn’t be rectangles, but wide and short for the home team and much narrower and longer on the visitor’s side of the field. Basketball goals would change in size, big and wide for one team, too small to fit the ball for the other side.

How long do you think the refs and the fans  would put up with that? Not for one second.

But we put up with this political cheating,  this gerrymandering, generation after generation.

It’s one of the main reasons why it’s a jungle in the halls of power . . . too many cheetahs.

That’s my take, please leave yours here on WTVR.com.

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