What would happen if the winner of the Super Bowl got to make the rules for next season? Instead of getting the last pick in the draft, the champs got to take the first pick? What if they could decide which division they played in and could pick an easier schedule? As a result, they would virtually ensure consecutive championships for the foreseeable future. If that sounds unsporting, unethical, and even absurd, that’s about what the Republicans are doing to Tennessee’s political system.
To press their already huge advantage, the GOP majority has been busy “redistricting” or redrawing the map so they are likely to win more seats in the future. By splicing up Shelby County, they have reduced the Senate seats from five to four and whittled down five African American incumbents to three seats. Of course, the only legitimate reason to redistrict is when there are population changes in a specific area. Splitting counties and forcing Democrat incumbents to run against each other has nothing to do with re-balancing the districts and everything to do with a power grab.
The Republicans have also been busy passing laws to suppress voter turn-out by requiring picture IDs to vote. This specifically targets older citizens who may not have a picture on their driver license (like my mother-in-law), poorer voters who may not have a car, and younger voters who don’t yet have a car. Not surprisingly, these are all segments who often vote Democratic. The Republicans would have us believe this is to protect against voter fraud, although they can only point to one instance in the entire state…Not exactly a crime wave.
If nothing else, these tactics prove that Republicans are more concerned about holding on to power than doing anything constructive for the state of Tennessee. Unfortunately, neither party is blameless. In their heyday, the Democrats were guilty of “redistricting” or gerrymandering to give themselves an advantage in the local races. That does not make what the Republicans are doing okay. With so many challenges facing our state, they should find better things to do than playing political games.
History is replete with the pitfalls that follow the abuse of power. Julius Caesar was riding high until he was warned of the “Ides of March.” “Ides” literally means to divide in the middle and was a reference to the coup that would take place in the middle of the month. Dividing counties in an effort to conquer political foes and disenfranchising segments of citizens from the political process is a shabby way to cling to power. When the people do not feel like they are being represented, they can rise up and demand change. They’ve done it before, and they’ll do it again.
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Tags: dividing counties, gerrymandering, Ides of March, Julius Caesar, picture IDs, redistricting, redistricting in Tennessee, Republican Party, supressing voter turn-out, Tennessee GOP, Tennessee Legislature, Tennessee Republican Party