When Did the Melting Stop?

When Did the Melting Stop?

By Patrick F. Cannon

The final 2020 Census numbers are out. Nationally – and it’s no surprise – Hispanics had a significant increase to 18.7 percent of the total population. But so did Asians, at 5.6. Blacks held steady at 14.1, while Whites decreased to below 60 percent of the population (57.8). Interestingly, 10 percent of Americans describe themselves as multi-racial. You’ll be interested to know that you have 331,449,280 fellow Americans. That was a 7.4 percent increase in the total population since the 2010 Census, one of the smallest increases in recent history.

            The real reason for the Census – and where it gets interesting – is to enable politicians at every level to carve up the electorate into districts that favor them. For example, Illinois lost 18,124 souls (one of only three states to lose population, the others being poor West Virginia and perhaps even poorer Mississippi). Not so much, you say? Well, in fact, it will mean that the state will lose one seat in the Federal House of Representatives.

            Since the reapportionment process in Illinois is controlled by the Democratic Party, you can be certain that the lost seat will be Republican, making the split 15 Democrats to 4 Republicans. In contrast, Chicago’s population actually increased by about 50,000, to 2,746,388. It appears that someone was actually moving into all those new apartment buildings in the central city. But the good news is certain to cause a battle royal in reapportioning the city’s 50 wards.

            The current makeup of the Council is 20 African-American, 18 White and 12 Hispanic. There are currently no Asian-Americans. Based on the new Census, true parity would suggest a breakdown in the future of 16 Whites, 15 Latinos, 14 African-Americans and 4 Asians. Perhaps the last seat could go to someone of mixed race? Do you see a battle developing between blacks and Hispanics in these numbers? You can count on it. And it won’t be done in a spirit of good will.

            There is, of course, no law that says African-Americans should be able to vote only for those of that race. But that, in fact, is what happens when reapportionment takes place. By now, all of us should know what Gerrymandering means. In my case, it means that I end up in the 7th Congressional District, represented by Danny Davis. Davis is African-American. I’ve met him, and he’s an amiable former history teacher, who is getting a bit long in the tooth. To insure his election, his district extends from the lakefront through the West Side to Oak Park and Maywood; then from China Town in a very narrow corridor to Englewood. This shape results in a majority black district.

            The concept that members of a race or ethnic group must be represented only by a person of that group is now firmly embedded in most states. The Constitution is mute on this point, leaving apportionment to the states. While it has had to rule on many local battles, the Supreme Court has mostly avoided taking any position, even in the most egregious cases.

            This has resulted in the Balkanization of the American electorate. Instead of one American people – the famous “melting pot” – we have at least three competing groups: Whites, Blacks and Hispanics. There is also a growing Asian population, which no doubt will increasingly demand to be heard. Oh, and don’t forget that all of this can be further divided by sex, whatever that now means.

            We hear a great deal about “disenfranchisement.” This seems to mean that if you’re a black man, you really don’t have a vote if you can only vote for a white man (or woman). Before the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed, that was often the case. No longer. For example, Chicago has a black mayor; and New York will have one later in the year. Neither would have been elected with only black votes, so it appears that white and Hispanic voters are willing to vote for a black candidate if they feel he or she is the best qualified. As you may recall, Barack Obama was elected president twice, despite blacks only comprising 14 percent of the electorate.

            The number of representatives in Congress is based purely on the population of each state relative to the country’s total population. States and localities should have districts and wards based simply on population, and be contiguous. Race and ethnicity should not be a factor. Only citizenship. The party in power would hate such a system, which is precisely why it’s so badly needed. The real disenfranchisement takes place when a political party can carve up the map to insure it retains power. Even if I wanted to vote for a Republican, I couldn’t in many cases.

            As a result, ,the general quality of our politicians is only fair to poor. Under the current system, don’t look for any improvement. And there seems to be no way out.

Copyright 2021, Patrick F. Cannon

4 thoughts on “When Did the Melting Stop?

  1. We know competition benefits the customer. If there was only one choice in toilet paper, people would be even grumpier than they are already. And as Machiavelli argued, the end justifies the means.

    Competition also benefits the competitor, by motivating improvement. This principle is predicated on the customer having choices.

    Normally in elections, voters have choices. Elections happen only every so often, but they happen at regular intervals. Such a system, you would think, would spur elected officials to do their best to win voter approval.

    But competition can be an expensive nuisance. It’s unfair and it’s messy. And if someone wins, someone else loses. Harsh! And what if the voters find out what politicians really do all day, and how much they rake in on the side? They’d be extremely grumpy. Our republic doesn’t want that.

    Besides, choosing can be difficult. How many times have we heard people say, “I just don’t know for whom to vote (assuming the voter is grammatical)”? Isn’t it the duty of politicians to serve and assist voters?

    The obvious solution is to eliminate the difficult choices presented by competitive elections while maintaining the quality of elected officials. Democrats in Chicago and elsewhere in the state and country have exhibited marvelous ingenuity at this simple service. In Chicago, they have thoughtfully removed outdated Republicans by making elections “non-partisan” and giving voters more candidates to select from. This makes it much easier for voters to choose a reliable and proven incumbent while giving lesser-known and lesser-funded candidates an opportunity for visibility.

    And then there is Congressional district gerrymandering. What could be more considerate of voter preferences than drawing the district around supporters of a given candidate to ensure they retain the representation they have previously approved? This service is especially helpful to those unfortunate voters who may feel themselves in a minority and therefore less privileged to voice their choice.

    Finally, Democrats have ensured that all voters, even those who might be reluctant or unable to step outside their homes, or who might even feel compelled to ignore an election altogether, to vote, by allowing ballots to be mailed. The Democrats even make provision for third parties to assist such voters by enabling ballots to be harvested, like apples from an apple tree, apples that otherwise might rot on the branch. As it is, only about half of the electorate takes the trouble to vote. We must allow all votes to be counted!

    In summary, let us applaud these innovations, designed to bring the will of the people into the 21st century, and beyond. This is not your grandfather’s America anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

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