Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Tennessee Republicans move to Jerrymander Nashville into ‘political oblivion’

The Tennessee State Legislature on Wednesday put forward one of the nation’s most sweeping redistricting proposals: a plan that would divide Nashville into three separate constituencies and drastically weaken the political power of black voters in the state’s largest city.

The proposal would turn Nashville “into political oblivion” and turn its residents “from proud residents of the capital to captives of the three colonies,” Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tn) said in a statement after the plan passed through the state. Commission for the redistribution of houses.

Cooper, a member of the House Blue Dog coalition of conservative Democrats, has represented Tennessee’s 5th congressional district since 2003. This county, which covers the entire city of Nashville and surrounding Davidson County, has not elected a Republican since 1872. Nashville, Cooper noted. in a statement condemning the plan, “remained politically unified for 230 years”.

The current redistricting cycle has resulted in rampant scams across the country as legislators redraw electoral maps, which in many cases will render legislative and state constituencies completely uncompetitive.

Under the Tennessee GOP proposal, the epicenter of the 5th congressional district would shift to rural areas outside of Nashville, which are far more Republican-friendly. Other parts of the city and Davidson County will be merged into two other counties that the Republicans won by 40 points each in 2020.

The map will weaken the power of Nashville residents, including its relatively large black population, which makes up approximately 28% of the total population of Davidson County. And that will likely ensure that the Republicans win all three seats that will surround and include the Nashville area, ending more than a century of Nashville Democratic representation and leaving the party with only one seat in Tennessee’s nine-member congressional delegation.

“The damage this map does to the political influence of minority groups in Nashville is enormous,” Cooper said in a statement. “Our strong, diverse communities in Nashville are represented and reaffirmed in Washington DC today as Nashville has its own voice in Congress. This voice is silenced when we are colonized by remote rural communities.”

He added: “What the Republicans failed to win in the local elections, they steal through fraud.”

Odessa Kelly, the progressive who launched Cooper’s main 2022 challenge last year, also criticized the plan. in video posted on Twitter.

Republicans are splitting Nashville “only to destroy the Democratic stronghold in Tennessee and dilute the voices of blacks, browns and immigrants, progressive thought and the voices of anyone who wants to escape the traditions of the Old South,” Kelly said.

Entering this round of redistricting, Democrats across the country feared that GOP state legislatures would use their power to manipulate enough districts to essentially eliminate the Democrats’ thin majority in Congress before the 2022 election even began.

According to Cook’s non-partisan Political Report, this did not necessarily happen, according to which this round of redistricting amounted to “washingbetween the two parties, partly because the GOP-controlled states were already so effectively rigged, and partly because the Democrats drew favorable cards in Illinois, New Mexico, and Oregon.

But the Republican Party will still enjoy party advantage simply because of the way districts are allocated, and its most aggressive machinists have managed to further undermine the power of blacks and other minority voters, especially in the major metropolitan areas of the red and purple states.

In North Carolina, the GOP legislature has drawn new cards that favor Democrats in only three of the state’s 14 congressional districts, even though the state is politically divided very narrowly. If the total vote count in future elections were evenly divided, North Carolina Republicans emerge victorious in 64 of the 120 state legislative districts and in 32 of the 50 state senatorial districts, independent analysis of the new maps was found.

The practice of burglary in cities like Nashville is a particularly pernicious way to limit the power of urban centers as well as blacks and minorities, who typically make up a relatively large portion of their populations. In Texas like Austin divided into six separate constituencies, although its population of approximately 960,000 exceeds the average size of a single constituency by only about 200,000 inhabitants.

Efforts to divide cities have become even more aggressive in recent cycles of redistribution of areas, as urban and suburban areas have become more democratic. And in the already machinated red states, the capture of the blue urban areas served as the best option for the Republican Party to further consolidate control.

Utah Republicans divided Salt Lake City, a Democratic bastion, into separate counties, while North Carolina Republicans divided Raleigh and Greensboro. for several districts… Oklahoma Republicans likely divided Oklahoma City into three districts. erasure of the competitive zone that the Democrat won as recently as 2018.

Elsewhere, Republicans have chosen not to separate major cities with large Democrat populations. The Kentucky Republican Party briefly considered cracking down on Louisville, the state’s largest city that is almost entirely in a safe Democratic area, before leaving it virtually untouched. But the Republicans did move franklin county, the seat of the state capital, which is approximately 10% black, from the 6th congressional district, effectively ending any lingering Democratic hopes of winning the election. former competitive district… At the state legislature, Kentucky Republicans did not create a single area in which blacks will be the majority of the inhabitants.

Nashville’s population has grown rapidly over the past decade. But roughly 700,000 people are still small enough to fit into a single congressional district. Next year, the median population of US constituencies is projected to be about 761,000.

The proposed maps of Tennessee still have to pass a few votes in both houses of the state legislature. Even if they do, they could run into legal problems like those filed against the new cards in North Carolina, Ohio and Texas, where the Justice Department lawsuit alleges that redrafted counties disadvantage minority voters.

“There is still time,” Cooper said in a statement, “for the General Assembly to come to its senses and stop hurting Nashville.”

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