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CNN’s ‘Reality’ Cop John Avlon Freaks Over Ohio GOP Redistricting, Cries Racism

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On Friday’s New Day show, CNN analyst John Avlon devoted a “Reality Check” to condemning the Republican-backed redistricting plan in Ohio which improves the GOP’s strength in the state’s congressional delegation. But between this week’s edition and his hyperventilating over Texas redistricting a month ago, the liberal CNN analyst couldn’t seem to make up his mind whether he supports or opposes gerrymandering of districts to guarantee certain outcomes.

Avlon began Friday’s segment by declaring that “The rigged system of redistricting is the single biggest structural driver of polarization in our politics,” and then informed viewers that Oho Republicans are aiming to hold 13 out of 15 districts in the state after the new maps take effect in 2022. He recalled efforts supported by Ohio voters to draw compact districts as he recalled:

These maps are on insult to democracy. They are designed to disenfranchise voters. But believe it or not, that’s not the worst of it. Because in 2018, just three years ago, a stunning 75 percent of Ohio voters backed an amendment to their state constitution ensuring that redistricting would be bipartisan and not favor any one political party. It also promised that congressional maps be drawn in such a way as to keep counties and towns whole, imposing geographic common sense on the absurd gerrymanders that divide communities to maximize partisan power.

But, about a month ago, Avlon reacted to the newly drawn Texas districts by misleadingly complaining that the Hispanic majority 35th district and black-concentrated 30th districts were having their minority percentages trimmed by just a few percentage points so that, in the 35th, eligible voters would no longer be majority Hispanic, and, in the 30th, eligible voters would no longer be majority black.

So Avlon seems to want racial gerrymandering, which often means oddly shaped districts, if it results in a minimum quota of minority-majority districts, but voices opposition to gerrymandering at the same time. And actual race-based gerrymandering to guarantee such majorities has proven so challenging in the past that, in the 1990s, racially packed districts in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia (all states then controlled by Democrats) were ruled illegal and ordered redrawn by federal court order.

In fact, according to the 2022 edition of the Almanac of American Politics, only 19 of the 56 current members of Congress who are black are representing districts where more than 50 percent of residents are also black.

After blaming state Republicans for derailing the commission’s work, pushing it back into the hands of the legislature, he further complained:

They cracked and packed minority communities, dividing counties and cities for their own partisan advantage. For example, the county that is home to Cincinnati, which voted for Biden by a 16-point margin, will be divided into three congressional districts, and black voters offset by white Republicans. And that’s why many are saying that this map might not only violate the Ohio constitution, but the U.S. Voting Rights Act.

Avlon did not mention that there are currently two districts represented by black members of Congress in Ohio, both of whom will have safe seats, which comes to two out of 17 (or 11.8 percent) of the seats in a state where blacks make up 12.5 percent of Ohio’s population.

Similarly, last month, Avlon did not mention that there are currently five congressional districts in Texas with black representation, and there will likely continue to be five after the 2022 elections. That would be 13.2 percent of the 38 seats in a state that is 12.2 percent black.

When it came to Democrats gerrymandering aggressively in Illinois, various CNN personalities were notably not interested in highlighting that angle even as they tried to blame former President Donald Trump for anti-Trump Republican Adam Kinzinger choosing not to run for reelection.

Avlon concluded melodramatically by quoting a Democratic official from Ohio.

This latest misleading episode of CNN’s New Day was sponsored in part by Tempur-pedic. Their contact information is linked.

Transcripts follow:

CNN’s New Day

November 19, 2021

7:46 a.m. Eastern

The rigged system of redistricting is the single biggest structural driver of polarization in our politics. And the great state of Ohio just showed us how professional partisans’ cynical disregard for the will of the people undermines representative democracy. You see, the Republican controlled legislature just passed an absurd partisan gerrymander designed to give them control of as many as 13 congressional seats, and Democrats just two. That’s 87 percent of the congressional delegation in a state where Trump won just 53 percent of the vote.

(…)

These maps are on insult to democracy. They are designed to disenfranchise voters. But believe it or not, that’s not the worst of it. Because in 2018, just three years ago, a stunning 75 percent of Ohio voters backed an amendment to their state constitution ensuring that redistricting would be bipartisan and not favor any one political party. It also promised that congressional maps be drawn in such a way as to keep counties and towns whole, imposing geographic common sense on the absurd gerrymanders that divide communities to maximize partisan power.

(…)

Well, Ohio Republicans just decided to disregard the state constitution and the will of the voters. The seven-member redistricting commission had a month to work out a fair map, but Republican members refused to participate, and so the commission couldn’t convene. The power to draw the lines fell back to the Republican-controlled state assembly, who proceeded to do exactly what the constitutional amendment forbids. 

They cracked and packed minority communities, dividing counties and cities for their own partisan advantage. For example, the county that is home to Cincinnati, which voted for Biden by a 16-point margin, will be divided into three congressional districts, and black voters offset by white Republicans. And that’s why many are saying that this map might not only violate the Ohio constitution, but the U.S. Voting Rights Act.

(…)

While this partisan map is clearly in violation of the state constitution, what it really does is show that Republicans only care about controlling Congress in the upcoming midterms. And they won’t be constrained by pesky things like laws or state constitutions in the pursuit of power.

And what happens in Ohio doesn’t stay in Ohio. This is just one example of the rigged redistricting that’s happening in state houses across the country, right now, trying to predetermine the midterm elections before a single vote is cast. It’s also an example of why federal election reform is so needed because even statewide reforms, backed by the vast majority of voters, can be discarded by the party in power.

As David Pepper — the former chair of the Ohio Democratic party — writes in his new book, Laboratories of Autocracy, “We are witnessing a coordinated nationwide weaponization of state houses to undermine American democracy itself.” Make no mistake, this is happening right now. They’re just hoping you won’t notice it until it’s too late.

(…)

October 21, 2021

JOHN AVLON: It increases the number of Republican-dominated districts from 22 to 25, while reducing the number of districts in which Hispanics make up a majority of the electorate, from eight to seven. And, again, that’s despite Hispanics now being roughly equal to the non-Hispanic white population in Texas.

And that’s not all. They actually dropped the number of districts where African-Americans make up a majority from a grand total of one to 0. In the process they made districts less competitive, pushing more power to the partisan primaries.

What do you think?

Written by Newsman

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