Thursday, January 14, 2010

Rokita Is a Devious Genious

Sometimes I suffer from political tactic envy when Republicans come up with the most amazing ploys. Today, I’m talking about my Wabash classmate, Todd Rokita.

Rokita put his poli-sci chops in full motion by starting a crusade called Rethinking Redistricting, the goal of which is to take the drawing of legislative boundaries out of the hands of the evil politicians. You know, the self-interested types deviously sketching out Rorschach legislative boundaries to confuse simple-minded Hoosiers about who our state reps and senators are.

I’ve seen Rokita’s traveling presentation, and it’s ingenious. It employs “common sense” with cunning effectiveness and is chocked full of “that’s outrageous” moments. “Why would we have the North side of a street in one district and the South side in another?” Rokita asks to collective gasps of indignation. “Why would we split a city in two?” he asks, as if we are forcing it to secede from the Union instead of giving it one more state rep to advocate for it than most cities have.

Another thing Rokita and Governor Daniels talk about is the lack of competition in legislative districts. Here’s the Guv’s quote: “Hoosiers deserve districts that make common sense and keep communities together, not lines drawn by political party computers to protect incumbents and limit competition.”

Now, as populist as this rhetoric is, we know aspiring politicos have to be at peace with their own party leadership, at least to some degree, so ask yourself this question: “How does a guy running for Governor as a Republican in 2012 avoid getting frickasseed by every R at the statehouse over this proposal? At first, Rokita did got the verbal beatdown by Senator David Long and House Minority Leader Briam Bosma. But then it stopped.

I think I know why. Rokita told them what he knew.

Follow this closely, devoted readers.

Professors Jowei Chen and Jonathan Rodden have compelling research showing that, because Democrats tend to live in urban areas, if you take “politics” out of map drawing and require compact, contiguous districts, Republicans gain electoral advantage, even without any intentional gerrymandering by Republicans.

Have you ever heard of anything as clever? How can even a wide-eyed optimist avoid morphing to a haggard cynic when the single greatest political advantage the GOP can ever have comes from saying, "Let's not make redistricting political!" The good government types and editorial boards are now shills for the Republican Party, and they don't even know it!

"But wait, Chris," you say. "Governor Daniels and Rokita talk about competitive districts and how many incumbents run unopposed."

Indeed, but among the priority hierarchy, notice that competition is the last thing mentioned. Did the Star (or anybody else) think to ask Rokita this question: "If you knew splitting a particular city would make a strong Republican-leaning district competitive, would you do it under your plan?" You already know their answer.

Initially, I was going to prove this alleged desire for competition is a sham by analyzing the maps Rokita paid to draw up. Then I learned something interesting. They aren't actual maps; they are concept maps.

I don't care what you call them, though. I challenge Rokita to produce the precincts in his map for me to analyze whether Rokita's own map increases the number of competitive districts. If he can't or won't do this, he shouldn't talk about competition because that's not his goal. Victory is.

(Sorry, Teddy, but if we were sitting around with beers in hand with no mics, cameras, or blog thoughts, you know you'd chuckle about how politically devious this is. And brilliant).

LATER THIS WEEK...the Republican Gambits for Leasing Toll Roads, Parking Meter Collection, and Property Tax Reform!!!


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