by Brian Cannon
On a recent panel at the Aspen Institute (starting at 51:30), Tom Perez (DNC Chair) and Michael Steele (former RNC Chair) touched on the issue of redistricting reform. Perez said one of the most important things we need to do is engage in redistricting reform. Steele agreed. He also applauded Governor Larry Hogan’s (R-MD) efforts to create a new redistricting system in Maryland. In doing so, Steele made the salient point that Perez and those in the audience should also get behind the Maryland efforts on reform. “You either want to change the system or you don’t.”
Amen. Talking about North Carolina’s need for redistricting reform but leaving out Maryland’s should raise everyone’s suspicions. Steele nailed it, and we should all listen carefully.
This sounds a bit like Governor Jon Inslee (D-WA) remarking that America needs redistricting reform on Pod Save America (at 38:10). He started out so well. Gov. “Stop gerrymandering,” Inslee said. “Start giving people adequate representation in districts.” But then he had to finish with this: “the key to stop gerrymandering is to elect Democratic governors as soon as we can.”
What?! The idea that this issue is partisan is laughable. It’s about power and whether the people are loud enough to take that power back from the incumbents – whether from Democrats in Maryland, Republicans in North Carolina, or, as in Virginia in 2011, from both parties. No party has a monopoly on virtue here.
As Steele said, governors around the country are pushing for redistricting reform, but the efforts of Republicans Kasich and Hogan are just as worthy as those of Democrats Inslee and McAuliffe. The R or D next to their name doesn’t change a thing.
Michael Steele is right — you’re either for reform or you’re not. Perez is right that the system is so broken that there is no incentive for either side to come to the middle. But you can’t be for reforming that system in North Carolina but not in Maryland. That’s hypocritical. Voters can sense this, too.
Brian Cannon is executive director of OneVirginia2021.