CINCINNATI — Take Back Our Republic supports a May 8 Ohio vote to reform redistricting — and the ACLU does not. I feel like Alice arriving in Wonderland only to discover that everything is backward.
The Ohio vote is relevant throughout the country as partisan court battles focus on redistricting reform proposals — most notably in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In those states Democrats pushed reform proposals, while Republicans counter by talking about distorted maps in Maryland, Illinois, and Massachusetts.
So why would the liberal ACLU be the hold-out against the redistricting reform plan that actually has some support from both sides, seemingly contradicting their stated position on their own website?
"Redistricting refers to the process of redrawing the lines of districts from which public officials are elected. Gerrymandering is when the lines are drawn to manipulate the boundaries to predetermine the outcome of elections, hindering voters from voicing their interests through their votes."
"The ACLU works to ensure that redistricting takes place in a fair way that accounts for the size of a district’s population and its racial and ethnic diversity."
In the recent Pennsylvania case the ACLU went so far as to file a legal brief to change districts drawn by a Republican legislature, and now they are not even willing to ask for a Yes vote on a ballot measure that would set a fair and balanced redistricting system in place that would require signoff from at least some of both parties to get a 10-year districting plan?
Take Back Our Republic’s support of this plan makes perfect sense because we support the FixItAmerica.org Constitutional Amendment which would result in the whole country eventually going to a system like Ohio Republicans and Democrats signed off on so that the districts rigged for Democrats in Maryland, Illinois, and Massachusetts could be made fair at the same time that the states rigged for Republicans would go through a fair process.
The winner in Ohio and the potential nationwide follow-up with the FixItAmerica.org Constitutional Amendment would not be either political party — but the voters who would live closer to their representatives and receive better representation. A commission might start with a computer program that grouped people in districts based on how long it would take them to visit their legislator (usually closest together, but avoiding barriers like water or a mountain range) and then the Commission could tweak from that starting point to get at least one member from the other party to sign off in order for a 10-year plan (vs. a temporary plan).
Which brings us back to the original question: why was the ACLU willing to go all the way to the Supreme Court on the Pennsylvania case but not even willing to ask voters to cast a vote in favor in Ohio like other groups from across the political spectrum have done?
The real answer comes in what the ACLU was able to get in Pennsylvania that they will not get if Ohio voters approve Issue One May 8.
In Pennsylvania the case changed partisan districts drawn by Republicans to favor their party not by putting a fair commission process in place — but by instead having a few partisan Democrats who were just elected to the Supreme Court do just the opposite and draw districts to maximize how many Democrats could be elected.
It seems the ACLU is holding out — not accepting a nonpartisan solution in hopes of getting a solution every bit as partisan — but favoring the party with which they align instead of the one they oppose.
Americans are fed up with weird redistricting plans just as they are by secret campaign money from overseas. All of these practices keep them away from their representatives in Congress and State Legislators.
Ohio gives a great blueprint for the eventual national follow-up to FixItAmerica, and we believe conservatives and Republicans should follow the lead of their counterparts in Ohio.
There will be legitimate disagreements over the starting point criteria for redistricting in each state. Conservatives need to fight for redistricting reform to be in a stronger position to turn down arguments like the one in a Wisconsin Supreme Court case that if one party holds more seats than their percentage of the vote then that proves the district lines are unfair. The focus should be on putting voters closer to their representatives, not complaining about the natural advantages Republicans do enjoy in many legislatures simply because Democratic voters tend to be more condensed in areas which leads to more 80 percent to 20 percent Democratic districts and more 55 percent to 45 percent Republican districts.
Take Back Our Republic is committed to Issue One in Ohio on May 8, the FixItAmerica Amendment as a follow-up, and then a fair process that may naturally result in some 55 percent to 45 percent Republican districts that can still flip in a Democratic year. The ACLU should get on board with us and many other groups from across the political spectrum with these fair proposals rather than only support plans that are just as unfair for their party as the party they oppose.
John Pudner is Executive Director of Takeback.org, a non-profit home for Americans seeking true political reform. Our conservative solutions include: stopping illicit foreign money from impacting elections; ending pay-to-play in government contracting; and restoring the Reagan-era federal tax credit for small-dollar political contributions, which will encourage more citizens to become donors and help re-balance the campaign finance system. For more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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