Gerrymandering holds country back


A Comment By Joe Lee III

   It was easy to agree with former Tennessee Cong. Harold Ford’s comment last week on MSNBC’s Morning Joe show.
   He blamed the current discord and dysfunction in Washington on extreme gerrymandering, observing that the current boundaries promote the election of politicians with uncompromising viewpoints. He indicated until something is done about that, it would be hard to affect a cure for Washington gridlock.
   He is exactly right.
   We can cite specific instances in this state and in countless cities around Mississippi in which the lines were drawn with the sole purpose of electing a certain political profile.
   Look at the boundaries for Mississippi Congressional District Two. It stretches from near the Tennessee line to Jefferson  County near our state’s southern border. The district lines are careful to exclude the heavily white areas of Madison County. It was drawn solely to keep Rep. Bennie Thompson in office.
   District Two was drawn first in order to capture the maximum number of African -American voters, then the other districts were drawn from the state’s leftover population. There weren’t enough African -Americans left to have any significance influence in who wins the other districts. The result is a strong political polarity that would not exist if all candidates had to vie for votes on a more level and homogeneous playing field.
   Numerous Mississippi city governments, including Grenada, are crippled because of this federal government forced boundary architecture.
   The problem is not just in Mississippi. Virtually every district in the country is gerrymandered to give some faction or race a political advantage. This procedure has been federally-forced in the south since 1965, but it has become a political reality in all 50 states over the last decades.
   Again, we agree with Cong. Ford, but we have to admit we are amused at his observation, because the very gerrymandering he is criticizing is what got him elected to office in the first place.

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