“It’s Not Complacency That’s Paralyzing Democrats”

From David Frum (@davidfrum), at The Atlantic (sub-titled: An overambitious faction of the activist left is standing in the way of voting-rights reform):

Here are two leading examples.

Republican gerrymandering works by stuffing as many as possible of a state’s Democratic-leaning voters, especially Black voters, into the fewest possible districts. Gerrymanders improve Republican election outcomes—but also deliver super-safe seats to minority officeholders. The reform bills would promote independent commissions in place of partisan gerrymandering. That project would boost Democratic prospects in general, but could threaten Black Democratic incumbents.

Here’s another example.

The House versions of the reform bills take aim at big money in politics by offering federal matching grants to campaign contributions of up to $200 in the amazing ratio of 6 to 1: Donate $200 to the congressional candidate of your choice, and you would also direct their way an additional $1,200 in federal money. That plan horrifies many mainstream Democrats, who interpret it as a massive windfall for unelectable left-wing insurgent candidates running primary campaigns against more electable centrists.

It’s squabbles among the passengers, not dilatoriness by the conductors, that have sidetracked the train.

It goes without saying that posting pieces does not indicate agreement with them, nor do I plan to get in the habit of indicating points on which I might disagree. But in this case, I want to suggest on the first point it would have better to say that gerrymandering reform “is perceived by some to threaten Black Democratic incumbents.” As long as these reforms do not change Section 2 of the VRA, and no reformers have suggested that, the VRA districts in which incumbents currently sit would not be threatened. Still, most incumbents are highly risk-averse and want their districts to be as safe as possible, which is why perceptions can matter a great deal.


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