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:
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:
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.