Texsanity

Saturday, August 02, 2003


TEXAS REDISTRICTING

I just read a post where the writer was justifying the flight of Texas Senate Dimocrats to New Mexico. Her point was that redistricting was supposed to occur after every census and that, since we are between census(es?) that the Republicans shouldn't be trying to alter congressional districts.

That would be valid IF the US District Court hadn't been the entity that redrew the map after the last census. The legislature should have drawn up a map that was acceptable politically and legally (not that the federal courts should have stuck their nose in it in the first place) and that is what they are trying to do now. But the Democrats, since they don't have the votes to stop the remap, are abdicating their responsibility to govern and fleeing the state.

This will cost them at the polls and it should.

Texas has been gerrymandered by the Democrats for my entire lifetime (I was born in 1960). For those of you unfamiliar with Texas politics, Texas was one of the former Confederate states whose citizens traditionally voted Democratic since reconstruction. Texas Democrats (like John Connally and Phil Gramm - yes, Virginia they were both once Democrats) have always been, on the whole, much more conservative than their counterparts nationally. In the late sixties continuing on to the seventies, conservative Texas Democrats for national office began switching to the Republican Party as the national Democrat agenda became more and more left-wing. Texas, beginning with Richard Nixon's candidacy, began voting solidly Republican in presidential elections. Also, beginning with John Tower's election to the Senate in the early sixties, Republican's began to make inroads in other statewide elections.

This trend toward the Republican party in national elections did not filter down to Texas congressional elections until much later as local Democratic candidates continued to remain loyal to the national party even as their interests grew further apart. In order to maintain a higher number of Democratic US Congressman than would otherwise have been the case, Texas Congressional Democrats mapped out ridiculously gerrymandered US Congressional districts that snaked torturously through the state to dilute some Republican voting blocks while consolodating heavily Republican areas into "safe" seats for conservatives.

Eventually the leftward drift of the national Democratic Party drove all of the conservatives in Texas to the Republicans. This resulted in the recent complete control by the Republicans of the state government. Only the interference of the US Courts kept the proper redistricting of the state from occuring after the last census. Since the Texas legislature only meets once every two years this is the first opportunity for the representatives to redraw the map to reflect the political realities of the state instead of the desires of the federal bench.

It's understandable that the Democrats don't like what's going on here - they've had their way and kept people of Texas from being represented properly in the US Congress for a couple of decades. But it's unfair to suggest that this is an unfair attempted power grab by Republicans at the behest of Tom DeLay. Redistricting should have occured without interference in 2001 and the Democrats should be a part of the process now and stop running away from the duties that they were elected to carry out.

We didn't see the Republicans do this in 1991 did we?


Friday, August 01, 2003


So President Bush has come out against homosexual marriage - good.

I'm mindful that we are all sinners," Bush said. "And I caution those who may try to take the speck out of their neighbor's eye when they got a log in their own. I think it's very important for our society to respect each individual, to welcome those with good hearts, to be a welcoming country."

But he quickly laid down limits to his tolerance, insisting: "On the other hand, that does not mean that somebody like me needs to compromise on issues such as marriage. And that's really where the issue is headed here in Washington."

Federal statutes already define marriage as the union between a man and a women. However, legal experts on both sides of the issue expect that future court decisions may undercut those laws.


And in that last sentence you see the essence of the problems - the liberal federal courts. If the courts would stick to interpreting the laws as passed by the legislatures (and judging those laws versus what the constitution actually says) then there would be no need for a constitutional amendment to cover the issue of homosexual marriage. But anyone familiar with the American judiciary of the past forty years knows that some district court is going to overrule a state or federal law and legalize the practice despite the plainly (and legally) stated intent of the people.

I thought it was particularly good of Bush to add the part about judging others morally. That isn't the point of this. If gays want to co-habit then the government should have no interest about the practice whatsoever. But if they want to marry and receive the benefits which accrue to partners in a marriage from government sources then they are asking for my APPROVAL and my MONEY as a taxpaying US citizen and that I will not give them (and should not be forced to give them by an activist federal judge).

What gets lost in all of the debate is that spousal benefits are not a right conferred by the Constitution - they are a part of a social contract made between free people who believe that such benefits are in the common best interest. If we, as a people, decide that we do not wish to grant homosexual unions the same imprimatur as heterosexual marriage it is certainly within our rights as citizens to do so and to deny those benefits that accrue to married couples because the benefits are not Constitutionally guaranteed (and should not be).

Everyone engages in immoral practices periodically and the government should stay out of legislating morality generally. In extreme cases (e.g., adult incest) it is proper to step over that line and legislate some activities between two consenting adults, but homosexual behavior does not fall into that category. However, prohibiting governmental acknoledgement of gay marriage is different - we can be tolerant of an activity that we judge to be immoral without officially encouraging it.

I've read commentators who feel that Bush will damage himself by taking this stance. I thoroughly disagree. A LOT of people in this country agree with him and are tired of politicians who won't stand up and take a stance on tricky issues. By staking out a tolerant and decidedly Christian stance on homosexual marriage, he will appeal to the vast majority of Americans who, while not hating homosexuals, don't approve of the practice.

Let Howard Dean make it an issue! We're ready.


I'm back from a relaxing vacation last weekend.

Unfortunately, I dislocated my right index finger in a basketball game last Tuesday so typing has been a pain. But the splint is off (at least temporarily) and I'm back at the blog.


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