In biology, surface distinctions among human beings barely count.
Regardless of skin color, we all share 99.9 percent of our genetic code with one another.
Biologically, race is an artifice, a distinction without a distinction.
Try telling that, however, to the Republican Party’s computers.
They have an amazing ability to identify surface distinctions.
Over the past decade, Texas saw its population jump by 4 million. Ninety-five percent of that growth was people of color, particularly Latinos.
Ah, but thanks to the latest in demographic identification technology, new congressional districts drawn up by the majority party don’t reflect that. Instead, they bolster gringo power. This includes two newborn white-majority congressional districts.
That’s why the Biden administration is suing. These gerrymandered districts will negate people’s political power based on an artifice.
“Decade after decade, courts have found that Texas has enacted redistricting plans that deliberately dilute the voting strength of Latino and Black voters,” said Associate U.S. Attorney General Vinita Gupta.
Following a practice that draws a direct line to Jim Crow, new maps pack Blacks and Latinos into contorted districts to preserve safe seats for Republicans. In some cases, Republican-drawn maps put candidates of color in the same district.
In this way, Republicans — because they can — remove people’s power to choose who will govern them and gives that choice to those who govern.
News flash: Racially discriminatory redistricting remains illegal, even though a right-tilting Supreme Court in 2013 gutted provisions of the Voting Rights Act that required Justice Department or court preapproval of such changes.
Let’s hope that the aggrieved get a fair trial. It’s more likely, however, that partisanship will prevail.
More importantly, let’s hope Congress passes the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would stop partisan gambits that undermine the power of the people. Even Sen. Joe “The Recalcitrant” Manchin supports ending gerrymandering.
In an off-year election, the party out of power in Washington typically makes gains. If the Republicans make gains that flip the U.S. House in 2022, that phenomenon will be a factor. A bigger one, however, will be Republican computers used to eviscerate the political power of minorities.
In several states, voters have put a stop to politically contrived districts. They have instituted bipartisan redistricting commissions. Colorado did, to the consternation of majority Dems who could have consigned minority Republicans to shacks in the wilderness. Fairness ruled instead.
Contrast this with red states in the South where the partisan dimension has only been ratcheted up since the Supreme Court brutalized the Voting Rights Act, and pumped up more after Trump's Big Lie bullying about the election he lost.
Whether the matter is redistricting or “ballot security” measures that the courts repeatedly have ruled to have marginalized people at the margins, these measures are hardly “race-blind,” as Republicans claim.
They are designed to benefit a largely homogenous, mostly white power center that is threatened by a world of difference.
In North Carolina, the new Republican plan eviscerates the district of former Congressional Black Caucus chairman Rep. Paul Butterfield, who has chosen retirement. Meanwhile The New York Times reports that the new districts threaten the re-elections of four state senators, five state representatives, and several county officials, all African-American.
Civil rights groups are suing North Carolina. May the Constitution prevail – the one that provides for equal treatment under the law.
Factor all these things together, and Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams is right when she says, “What we are facing now is a very real and acute case of democratic subversion.”
Of course, the “we” in her statement isn’t inclusive of all, only those with a particular surface distinction.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.