To most people, the notion of having a single Congressman (or Congresswoman) represent the predominately minority, inner-city neighborhoods of both New Orleans AND Baton Rouge may seem, well, a little insulting. The two biggest population centers in the State being forced to share representation, gerrymandered along racial lines?

Louisiana is required, by law, to have at least one majority-minority district, but the point isn’t to marginalize constituencies; it’s an acknowledgment that we live in a State with the second-highest per-capita number of minorities in the country. Ideally, we should attempt to draw our Congressional districts in a way that most accurately reflects our demographic realities, not in a way that dilutes representation or marginalizes constituencies.

Yet the Louisiana Family Forum, an organization ostensibly serving the best interests of traditional families (whatever that actually means), suggests when Louisiana redraws its Congressional districts, we should ensure the majority-minority district stretches from the predominately minority, inner-city neighborhoods in South New Orleans to the predominately minority, inner-city neighborhoods in South Baton Rouge.

Check it out:

picture-42

See, if you just split New Orleans AND Baton Rouge in half (and in the right way), you can ensure that you meet the majority-minority requirements while, at the same time, making the adjacent and mainly suburban districts less competitive and more assuredly Republican. Moreover, this would ensure that the two seats that lean Democratic (one of which is currently held by a Republican) would essentially be collapsed into one district, and that two of the districts that have been recently competitive for Democrats will be more assuredly suburban and rural.

Also, their treatment of District Five is strikingly bizarre: St. Helena Parish would be represented by the same person who represents Monroe and Alexandria. For some reason (gee, I wonder), North Rapides Parish would be given to District Four.

Here’s what the districts currently look like:

distmap-num

Sure, there are some definite problems with the current district boundaries, but at least there’s an acknowledgment that Baton Rouge and New Orleans deserve and require distinct representation, at least within their urban areas.

We know we’re facing redistricting, no matter what. And I’m sure there are Louisiana Democrats who can draw lines to maximize their electoral advantages. But the LA Family Forum’s concept seeks to remake our State to their own advantage by ensuring that, in a State in which the majority of voters are registered Democrats who live in urban areas, their ability to have their votes meaningfully counted would be minimized. We’d become a State even more dominated by rural and suburban interests, which, obviously, would undermine urban representation.

26 thoughts

  1. Um, is it just me or does that map NOT show what you describe? District 2, which stretches from New Orleans to WEST Baton Rouge parish, DOES NOT appear to include the city proper. (BR that is) It does appear to include the northern tip of East Baton Rouge parish, but not the southern as claimed in this article. Almost the entirety of the population in East Baton Rouge parish, where the city lies, would still be in the 6th district. District 1 and 2 with respect to NOLA are essentially unchanged as far as this map shows. How is this combining NOLA and BR into one district? The map does not show this.

    I do think however that St. Landry Parish should be in district 3 and W Baton Rouge put into 5 with Iberville possibly in 5. Of course if you put Tangipahoa in district 1, district 6 could shift more westward which would make sense. The exact lines of course would have to depend on the variances allowed for population in each district.

    As for district 3/7, it makes perfect sense for the parts added to the old district 7 to be there. These areas have lots in common, probably more so than any other part of the state covering that large of an area.

    I’m guessing the northern part of Rapides had to go to district 4 since 5 had to be shifted east. 5 was shifted east so far because those are rural areas that can’t stay in 6 because 6 is so heavily populated.

    I’m not defending the LFF per se, but this article seems to get a little bent out of shape over things with perfectly good explanations, and even might I say goes so far as to make claims that aren’t supported by the map, at least as far as the detail shown indicates.

    All of that being said, this is another clear example of why the House shouldn’t be fixed at the arbitrary level of 435 members. We have seriously eroded representation when you can have 700k+ in one district. We need to get back to the original plan of 30K-50k sized districts. Sure, the House would be huge and unwieldy, but the people would be better represented and we wouldn’t have to haggle over nonsense like this.

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