Ron DeSantis Delivers MLK Day Gift Of Racially Gerrymandered Congressional Map

Ron DeSantis Delivers MLK Day Gift Of Racially Gerrymandered Congressional Map

Politico’s Tara Palmeri had an item in today’s Playbook about Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis’s so-called “MLK Day Surprise.” This is her clever reference to a proposed congressional map DeSantis submitted the Sunday before the King holiday. Governors rarely submit their own maps as part of the redistricting process. They usually respect the separation of powers and let the legislature pass a preferred draft, which the governor can choose to either veto or sign into law.

But DeSantis is a loner and rebel, so he does things his own way. Ryan Newman, general counsel for the governor’s office, explained the move in a statement to Florida Politics.

“We have legal concerns with the congressional redistricting maps under consideration in the Legislature,” Newman [said]. “We have submitted an alternative proposal, which we can support, that adheres to federal and state requirements and addresses our legal concerns, while working to increase district compactness, minimize county splits where feasible, and protect minority voting populations."

That last part is laughable because DeSantis’s proposed map does not in fact “protect minority voting populations.” It instead fucks them all up to be damned.

For example: DeSantis’s map halves the number of majority Black districts in the congressional map the GOP-controlled state Senate is considering. The districts would drop from four to two. while increasing the number of districts Donald Trump would’ve won in 2020 from 16 to 18. DeSantis’s Jim Crow map would also eliminate Black US House Rep. Al Lawson’s 5th congressional district seat. Lawson’s district includes much of Jacksonville, which has a significant Black population. The area has had minority representation for more than 30 years.

Democratic state Sen. Shev Jones told Politico’s Matt Dixon, "This map is not only unconstitutional, but it dilutes Black representation in Florida. To add insult to injury, the governor submitted this map all while tweeting a quote 'honoring’ Dr. King.”

Yes, DeSantis’s King Day tweet was standard GOP boilerplate whitewashing. It even included the one and only King line conservatives are interested in hearing. It’s like his “Free Bird.”

DeSantis has defined “freedom” during the pandemic as having absolutely no obligation to your fellow citizens’ health. It’s an insult when Republicans associate King with their version of “freedom.”

Here’s what Dr. King said about the Declaration of Independence during his “I Have A Dream” speech:

When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds.”

DeSantis is actively trying to pass a bad check. When Dr. King called on Congress in 1957 to introduce voting rights legislation, he declared, "Give us the ballot, and we will fill our legislative halls with men of goodwill.” DeSantis, however, wants to restrict Black Floridians’ political power and limit their representation in Congress.

Democracy-defending attorney Marc Elias read DeSantis’s proposed map for the filth it is.

He tweeted, "I look forward to my team deposing him and his staff to fully understand the illegal partisan motivations of this map.”

Although DeSantis might thoughtlessly invoke Dr. King, we’re sure the civil rights icon would’ve recognized him as a true enemy of racial justice.


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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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