It’s the redistricting, stupid.
A lot of people are under the mistaken belief that the November election is mostly about the economy. Well, it might be for you and it surely is for most voters – but that isn’t why you’re seeing millions of dollars being dropped like a carpet bombing pattern across the U.S. It’s not about taxes, either. The tax cuts put in place at the federal level in the early years of the Bush Administration are still very much in place and more were added with the stimulus legislation, of which about 40 percent was tax cuts. (Everybody can see what they did to produce jobs, right?) Not only are taxes simply not the problem right now, they’ve been lower for most people. Got that? Lower.
There are competing visions, to be sure. But the reason a national organization led by GOP political operative Karl Rove is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in Wisconsin’s 29th State Senate District isn’t really over a particular issue. It’s about redistricting. In short, it’s about ALL of their issues and philosophies over the next decade and beyond — some you don’t know about and some that even they don’t know about. And it’s playing out in states and districts across the country. They use different hot buttons like jobs, debt, deficit, immigration, their opponent’s record on something-or-other, trade agreements, or whatever it takes. (Nobody’s even talking about the war.) But it’s about redistricting.
Here’s an example. According to filings at four Central Wisconsin television stations, the Republican State Leadership Committee of Alexandria, Virginia, has booked airtime for $318,150 in television attack ads against State Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker. They are also spending on a direct mail campaign, the cost of which does not have to be disclosed. The total amount of spending is several times more than will be spent by the candidates themselves. And it’s not about combined reporting for those who want to bring back multi-state tax dodging or putting Wisconsin on a better fiscal footing. It’s about redistricting.
The Republican State Leadership Committee is funded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a number of large corporations, including Wal-Mart, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and others. We’re also seeing lots of “educational” advertising from Americans for Prosperity, a “movement” bankrolled by billionaire right winger David Koch. If you think Mr. Koch is about protecting middle class values, you would have to engage in some real mental gymnastics to arrive at that conclusion. (Here’s some good reading on that subject):
The legislators who hold the majorities in statehouses will be charged with redistricting their respective states using the data obtained in the 2010 Census. (You remember: that big conspiracy that people like Rep. Michele Bachmann warned you about):
“Take this into consideration. If we look at American history, between 1942 and 1947, the data that was collected by the Census Bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations at the request of President Roosevelt, and that’s how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps. I’m not saying that that’s what the Administration is planning to do, but I am saying that private personal information that was given to the Census Bureau in the 1940s was used against Americans to round them up, in a violation of their constitutional rights, and put the Japanese in internment camps.” -Rep. Michele Bachmann, June 2009
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Now, do you think that if the Democrats have a chance to redraw Michele Bachmann’s district, it’s going to end up looking much like the one that currently keeps sending her back to Congress? A nip here and a tuck there and it will be bye-bye Michele – particularly if Minnesota ends up losing a Congressional seat. (Ironically, that’s something that is made even more likely if many people in the Gopher State followed through on her paranoid rhetoric and ended up not being counted.)
Here’s what the Minneapolis-Star Tribune said about that last year, as the state was gearing up for the Census:
“If Minnesota were slated to lose a seat, the Sixth Congressional District represented by Republican Michele Bachmann would be particularly vulnerable, said Steven Smith, a political science professor at Washington University in St. Louis.
That’s because the Sixth, which includes eastern, northern and western suburbs, is an odd shape that would make it a likely candidate to carve up, he said. If so, it would likely force Bachmann, if she opted to stay in Congress, to run in a less conservative district.
However, if Republicans were to control the legislature and governor’s office they would likely try to carve up the First Congressional District represented by Democrat Tim Walz, Smith said.”
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And that, my friends is what the November 2010 mid-term election is all about. So turn off the ads and throw out the mailers. In state-level races, this election is about redistricting. Period.
UPDATE: In the Fall 2012 state legislative and congressional elections, more people voted for Democrats than Republicans. But thanks to a highly-partisan redistricting map, the GOP easily controls the Wisconsin State Assembly, the Wisconsin Senate and the majority of the Congressional delegation: