Drawing districts: Why constituents should care


  1. Michael L Hays says:

    Dr. J.,

    Your dichotomy between listening and everything else is complicated by your admitted misuse of the word, which concerned voting, not power. The rest of what you say is based on invidious presumptions about me when, in fact, you know virtually nothing about me. Your status as a minority, etc, gives you no right to such presumptions, anymore than anyone else would be entitled to prejudices about you. Your anger is no surprise to me if I think of you as a member of a minority, but it justifies nothing. I say no more.

  2. Dr. J says:

    Dr. Hays, by definition:
    verb /ˌdisenˈfranCHīz/ 
    disenfranchised, past participle; disenfranchised, past tense; disenfranchises, 3rd person singular present; disenfranchising, present participle

    1.Deprive (someone) of the right to vote
    – the law disenfranchised some 3,000 voters on the basis of a residence qualification

    2.Deprived of power; marginalized
    – a hard core of kids who are disenfranchised and don’t feel connected to the school

    3.Deprive (someone) of a right or privilege
    – a measure which would disenfranchise people from access to legal advice

    4.Deprive (someone) of the rights and privileges of a free inhabitant of a borough, city, or country

    I was using it as in definition #2, certainly a very standard use of the term. When you are a minority by education, wealth, ethnicity, culture, sometimes language, and always political world view, this is the proper use of the term. And I would remind you that listening vs. hearing/understanding/empathizing and thoughtfully incorporating diverse and thus differing views from your own are quite distinctly different things. I used the wrong word, sorry for the confusion. You would never change your views based on anything I say, and you have your own “good” reasons for that, well explained from your opinions and worldview. This is no different that my elected reps, but it is still not making me feel enfranchised by my political system reps when nothing changes.

  3. Goodmacher says:

    I hate to disappoint everyone who is so intensively involved in all the meetings etc, but if the past is prologue to our future… the state office redistricting will be finalized here in NM by the courts. The legislature and the governor are sure not to agree, much less the partisans within the legislature itself.

    Local re-districting on the other hand … citizen involvement may actually make a greater difference.

  4. Michael L Hays says:

    Dr. J., I have no idea how to respond effectively to your latest comments. No, I do not agree with the answer implied by your first question. The rest seems to deny that anyone can be fair-minded–a view which I reject–and affirm the need for enclaves of people similar to one another in some important way–a view which I also reject. The are so many ways by which minorities can be marginalized, and grouping them together can be one of them. I can do nothing about your feelings, especially since you your continued use of the word “disenfranchised” in a non-standard way suggests a personal response unreachable by ordinary discourse. I do sympathize with minorities and being a member of a minority, but I accord minorities or a member of a minority no special considerations without better reason than hurt feelings. Finally, your statement that “Diversity is wonderful and necessary, but it doesn’t work in our political system, nobody listens if they disagree with you” seems confused; I cannot put the front end together with the back end. I think that I could analyze it and show that it reflects a lack of commitment to democracy but also something closer to home and harder to deal with in a blog thread. Finally, speaking personally, I usually disagree with you, sometimes tartly, but I do listen to you, and my reasons for disagreeing with you reflect, I hope, that I listen to you.

  5. Dr. J says:

    Dr. Hays, would you agree that one person’s gerrymanderng is another’s perfect district to represent their views? It depends on which side of the political spectrum you reside vis-a-vis the majority who always elect reps. I see nothing wrong with putting like people together to form a coherent, like-minded community or district. I would not call that gerrymandering. My definition of gerrymandering is to marginalize a minority by sticking them into a majority that doesn’t represent their views soley to take them away from their like-minded brothers and sisters in another district. I have been on both ends in my life, I am currently marginalized as a minority so that I cannot be in a district of like-minded people. It makes me feel unrepresented and disenfranchised wrt the political system, since to matter what I do or say my reps will not listen to me or represent my views. How else should I feel? Diversity is wonderful and necessary, but it doesn’t work in our political system, nobody listens if they disagree with you.

  6. Michael L Hays says:

    Dr. J., you write: “When you find yourself in a district where the elected representative doesn’t even come close to representing your views, you know you have been a victim of this gerrymandering.” Really?

    Could it be that “you” live in a swing district, with a Republican one term and a Democrat another term? If not, could it be that the “you” are simply a member of the losing minority in the district?

    In elections, some voters elect their candidate and win, and other voters fail to elect their candidate and lose. No redistricting can make everyone a winner. God could not adjust boundaries so that the elected representative represented every voter’s views.

    Your underlying belief that, in a perfect world with objective people in it–God made no such world or people—everyone can be a winner–it is so la-la-land! I can understand the disparity between such a belief and the reality can cause disillusionment and dyspepsia. But voting for a losing candidate and finding that the winning candidate does not represent your views is not what anyone except perhaps you would call disenfranchisement.

    As one who is now sitting on my second school redistricting committee, I have a sense that citizens could work honorably toward redistricting of voters along lines of agreed-upon and prioritized principles like diversity of interests, contiguity of geography, socio-economic balance, etc. Gerrymandering comes when districts are designed to serve one party–evident in results which reflect a very different set of standards.

  7. Hemingway says:

    Enjoyed this thoughtful article on redistricting and its importance. Here is an overview of redistricting in New Mexico by the New Mexico Legislative Council Service.


  8. Dr. J says:

    This all sounds good, but of course we all know these “citizen” boards are gerrymandered just as badly as the districts will be under elected officials allied to these cherry-picked boards. A phrase like “get input from interested citizens ” just shows that politically motivated persons with special interests and no broad objectivity are the ones involved in these alleged “citizen” advisory groups. They are not to be trusted by the real citizens to be objective and act in the interest of all citizens. When you find yourself in a district where the elected representative doesn’t even come close to representing your views, you know you have been a victim of this gerrymandering, by the bogus “boards” or the elected legislative people in power. You become disenfranchised and unrepresented in government.