Sun Gazette editorials represent the viewpoint of Sun Gazette Newspapers, which provides content to, but is otherwise unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]
We’ve started the final push to Election Day – what a surreal and perhaps depressing trip it is likely to be – and given that we on the editorial page enjoy watching (and showcasing) intra-party fissures from within either party, it’s worth taking a look at the dust-up among Virginia Democrats over the constitutional amendment on legislative redistricting that will be on the Nov. 3 ballot.
The measure almost assuredly will pass, despite strenuous opposition from some in the state Democratic power structure and their more virulently partisan followers.
Wait, aren’t Democrats in favor of getting away from Virginia’s longstanding partisan redistricting controlled by whatever party might happen to be in power at any given time? Well, they were ... but then came recent election cycles, which catapulted Democrats into majorities in both houses of the General Assembly and control of the Governor’s Mansion. Now, some of those same purportedly good-government Democrats aren’t so sure that reforming redistricting is the best way to go.
That change of heart is transparently, blatantly partisan, and it’s been fun to watch those who have gone that route twist themselves into rhetorical pretzels trying to defend their indefensible position.
That position goes something like this:
We need more reform than the amendment gives us. So reject the amendment and next year – we promise! – we’ll use our powers to create completely fair and unbiased legislative and congressional districts, then we’ll propose a better constitutional amendment down the line.
Fact check: If the (admittedly imperfect) constitutional amendment goes down to defeat on Nov. 3, Democrats will be emboldened to use their majorities to gerrymander districts, defending their actions by claiming that only Democratic majorities will preserve good government in the commonwealth. It’s faulty logic, but great chutzpah.
We have no argument with those opposing the amendment based on sincere conviction. But Democratic leaders and the more rabid of their followers are merely stalling for time so they can have what they covet: unfettered access to redrawing districts their way. No sin in that, except for the holier-than-though tenor that has been adopted in the quest to obfuscate their real intentions.
Kudos to those more cerebral members of the party – state Sens. Janet Howell and Barbara Favola, to pick out two – who see the forest for the trees and support the amendment as a needed, if incremental, step forward.
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