Most who follow North Carolina politics are already well aware of the absurd hypocrisy of Republican politicians like Senator Phil “That was then, this is now” Berger on the issue of political gerrymandering. Berger, of course, championed the cause of nonpartisan redistricting while Republicans were in the minority and, then — presto!! — developed a case of amnesia once he and his fellow GOP’ers took control of the legislature. And, in fairness, it should be noted that many powerful Democrats wrongfully opposed the idea when they were in the majority and then found religion once relegated to the political wilderness.
But at least these folks have the excuse of being politicians looking out for their own jobs. What’s the excuse of the supposedly nonpartisan advocates over at the Pope-Civitas Institute?
Eight years ago this week, when the Republicans were on the outside looking in and Berger was still on his anti-gerrymandering crusade, the Pope-Civitas people were with down with the cause. In a post on the Pope-Civitas website at that time, the group lauded a Winston-Salem Journal editorial endorsing such a change. It praised the editorial for saying:
“The best road back to competitive elections for both the U.S. Congress and the two houses of the General Assembly is independent redistricting. A nonpartisan commission would draw maps according to redistricting standards laid out in a state Supreme Court ruling. Only voter registration and demographic data that had been stripped of party references would go into the computer programs.”
The Civitasers went on to express the hope that the proposal would “get some traction this session.”
Now flash forward to 2017 and check out this post that appeared yesterday on the Pope-Civitas site. What a difference a few years make. According to the new post, nonpartisan redistricting is “a fantasy.” The post goes on to say that: “It is encouraging to know that passage of a bill requiring a ‘nonpartisan’ committee to draw the next round of maps in 2020 is unlikely.”
To their credit, the Pope-Civitasers’ allies over at the Art Pope-funded John Locke Foundation have — at least publicly — stuck to their guns on ending gerrymandering. Like Common Cause and several other progressive groups (including NC Policy Watch), the Lockers have consistently supported reform, no matter which party is in power.
This evening, the movement for reform will get another boost when a bipartisan group of former judges (including former UNC President Tom Ross) bring their campaign to end gerrymandering to a sold-out forum in Greensboro. Let’s hope such efforts bear fruit and that hypocrites like the Pope-Civitas people soon find themselves part of a tiny and shrinking minority of gerrymandering apologists.