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Hugh Hewitt - Principal Contributor

Mr. Hewitt is senior member of theOneRepublic & editorial board. [go to Hewitt index]

New Rules For Losers
Gerrymandering's not fair when liberals are the victim…
[Hugh Hewitt] 1/14/05

Partisans who routinely lose always want to change the rules.  Which is why Republicans spearheaded term limits in California years ago, and why some Republicans, including Arnold, are pushing for a new method of drawing legislative districts.

The New Republic's Peter Beinart finds some kind words for Arnold in his new column, "Golden," but predictably used them to springboard into an attack on Tom DeLay for being a pretty good politician:

"In Texas, DeLay clearly set out to destroy political competition.  His Republican allies in the state legislature crammed African American and Latine Texans into their own heavily Democratic districts while making the surrounding ones overwhelmingly white, thus handing the Republicans five new House seats."

This is known as politics and gerrymandering is hardly new.  What's interesting about Peter's column is his selective outrage.

Texas voted for George W. Bush by a margin of 61% to 38%.  Republicans hold 23 of 32 Congressional seats --or 72% of the seats.  By this measure, the GOP is overrepresented in the Texas delegation.  If seats were allocated proportionately, the Democrats would have 3 more.

But Texas is hardly the worst offender.  Look at Maryland, where Kerry bested Bush 56% to 43%, but Democrats control 75% of the eight Congressional seats  --that means six for the benefit of the Pittsburgh Steelier fans. 

The real outrage that should be bothering Peter, though, is up in the Bay State, where George W. Bush collected 37% of the vote  --doing just about as well in Massachusetts as Kerry did in Texas-- but where Democrats occupy all 13 of the Congressional seats.  The GOP have none.  Zero. 

The name "Massachusetts" doesn't appear in Peter's column, which is odd since I believe he hails from the Commonwealth. When he writes a stinging rebuke to the gerrymanderers of his home turf, then perhaps I'll pay attention.  Until then, of course, it looks like a partisan's complaint about a superior and more talented foe.

Bottom line: The Constitution allows one legislative redistricting every ten years.  When obstructionist tactics prevent that from happening, the courts take over, which rewards the obstructionists and is anti-democratic.  I believe the country is best served by the sharp clash of partisans holding to clear agendas placed before the people for their review and assessment at the polls, and redistricting is part of that process.  The courts should stay out of it, and when courts are obliged to act, legislatures should return to their duty as soon as possible.  But if you are going to condemn the redistricting process, as Peter does, at least throw bricks at the house with the most glass--in this case liberal, do-gooder Massachusetts.


copyright 2005 Hugh Hewitt


theOneReublic Principal Contributor Hugh Hewitt is an author, television commentator and syndicated talk-show host of the Salem Radio Network's Hugh Hewitt Show, heard in over 40 markets around the country. He blogs regularly at and he frequently contributes opinion pieces to the Weekly Standard.

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