voice for democracy

Ayala: If you don’t see the attack on democracy in Texas’ new maps, you’re part of the problem – San Antonio Express-News

State Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, questioned how Hispanics in Texas could see no new Latino opportunity districts in areas including San Antonio.
If there’s anything fair or subtle in the state’s new political maps, drawn by Texas Republicans and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday, experts have yet to find it.
The maps are unconstitutional and discriminate against Latino, Black, Asian and other marginalized voters, diluting their political power.
It’s blatant.
The maps can eventually be fixed by the voter protections in the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act.
But for now, the new districts allow white voters to disproportionately make decisions for the rest of Texans.
Each one of us, regardless of party, can answer the moral question: Should Texas discriminate against voters of color or not?
No one is exempt from stopping an attack on democracy.
The think tank Freedom House, which studies democracy and rights globally, this year noted “the parlous state of U.S. democracy” in its Freedom in the World Report.
Though it ranks the United States as free and democratic, the report said the U.S. must work vigorously “to strengthen its institutional safeguards, restore its civic norms, and uphold the promise of its core principles for all segments of society if it is to protect its venerable democracy and regain global credibility.”
But what really needs to be addressed is the rotten core that has allowed such inequity and all-out cheating. No tienen vergüenza. They have no shame.
Republicans don’t want Latino and Black voters to elect someone of their choice, someone who might look like them.
They don’t want voter support for policies that improve public health, schools, roads, air and water or a power grid set up to deliver profits to the few rather than delivering energy at a fair price for the many.
Republicans didn’t use new census data to reflect population changes. They scammed it.
It’s important to note that census data might be found to be inaccurate, but likely in favor of Latinos and Blacks, who may have been undercounted.
Even suppressed data shows what the future foretells. It will come in all shades of brown and will keep growing in that direction.
If you’re a Republican and don’t see the new maps as anti-democratic, you’re part of the problem.
Here are the facts:
Ninety-five percent of the state’s population growth over the last 10 years is due to people of color.
White Texans make up 40 percent of the population but will control 60 percent of the districts, according to Ari Berman, author of “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America.”
Latinos now make up 39 percent of the state’s population but will get 20 percent of the state’s districts, Berman notes.
Latinos, by the way, are half a percentage point away from becoming the largest demographic group in Texas.
The state’s Black population, at 12 percent, will control only 2 percent of districts.
The new maps will keep the State Board of Education under Republican control even though almost 70 percent of Texas students are people of color and 52 percent are Latino.
“Texas Republicans don’t want to compete for your vote,” former San Antonio Mayor and former presidential candidate Julián Castro tweeted recently.
“They’d rather gerrymander voting maps and pass voter suppression bills to stay in power. We must protect our democracy with federal legislation immediately and defeat these cynical politicians at the ballot box.”
The bill named for John Lewis would restore provisions in Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, requiring U.S. Department of Justice pre-clearance before political maps are redrawn.
The Freedom to Vote Act would protect elections against voter suppression and partisan gerrymandering, among other provisions.
If you support what Republicans in the Texas Legislature did, you’re part of the assault on democracy. If you voted for Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, you’re the problem.
You’re not a patriot. You’re anti-democracy. You’re willing to allow Republicans to cheat and dilute Latinos, Black and other voters’ political power.
You’re supporting politicians who also voted to ban teachers from talking about the history that got us here.
In Bexar County, early voting ends Friday. Election Day is Tuesday.
Wear a mask to the polls. Remain 6 feet away from others in line. Wash your hands.
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A newspaper journalist for almost 40 years, Elaine Ayala has held a variety of journalism jobs, including news reporter, features editor, blogger and editorial page editor. She covers San Antonio and Bexar County with special focus on communities of color, demographic change, Latino politics, migration, education and arts and culture.