I don’t mean to say that this day is typical of my day as a conservative Precinct Committeeman, but they come like this sometimes. When I think about the end of the day, the beginning and middle seem like warm-up laps.
photo credit Terry Farmer
I took the day off work on Tuesday, May 24, and went to Springfield, IL to attend a lunch for pollster Scott Rasmussen. But, as it happened, that was the day for the Springfield hearing the Illinois House and Senate (state level) redistricting committees.
At the hearing I greeted a couple of legislators I had met, telling them I’d be talking about the public perception of impropriety in the redistricting process. I went in to the hearing and signed up to be a witness.
The committee co-chairpersonages (Democrats) testified first, giving a litany of goals for the redistricting process: to keep communities, townships, and counties intact, to pay attention to geographical boundaries, and to retain “the bond that develops between legislator and voter”. That got my attention.
Next they interviewed their paid expert, Prof Allan Lichtman of American University. Lichtman explained how Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, as interpreted by the courts, more or less mandated that they try to form districts to give minority voters a majority. His presentation was more nuanced than that, and I don’t mean to mischaracterize him by oversimplifying.
He did stake out the position, however, that the only way to know if a district or map satisfied the legal requirements of the Voting Rights Act was to pass it and wait to be sued. This follows the Pelosi strategy: we have to pass it to see what’s in it.
Witness after witness rose to plead their case for their particular “community of interest”. Everyone was cognizant of the need to make sure African American voters were taken care of, and had a chance to “fully participate in the electoral process” by making sure the candidate of their choice gets elected. Hispanic voters? Have to look after them, too. And those Latino voters. And Los Hispanics again. Oh, and make sure you don’t count a district as being majority Latino, when not all of the citizens counted in the census are “voting citizens”. Yeah.
My hair was standing on end with rage at this open racism. I took notes and made a brief outline for what I wanted to say.
When my chance to testify finally came, I was overly hyped from my suppressed anger, and stumbled around embarrassingly at first.
What I said, reconstructing from memory and notes and as reported here, was:
I appreciate the work that has gone into the redistricting process. We are all patriotic Illinoisans trying to do what’s best for our state.
We’d all agree that the Voting Rights Act mandates that we pay attention to racial issues when doing the redistricting. I’m sure the committee finds doing so as abhorrent as I do, but it’s at least defensible given the requirements of the Voting Rights Act.
But what is equally abhorrent and indefensible is paying attention to “bonds” of incumbency in the process. That is nothing more than the raw attempt to retain your jobs as incumbents.
Illinois has a real image problem across the nation. Like the budget battle, it’s an example of institutional corruption that I hope you recognize.
There were no questions — an no eye contact, either. I’m not sure they were entirely happy.
I left for a nice lunch, getting in late to meet Scott Rasmussen and the fine people at the Illinois Policy Institute.
I got home, and who should call but Rep Tim Johnson, (R-IL15), my Congressman. Just to chat, he said. Congressman Johnson has been very solid on the issues ever since the financial crisis of 2008, even voting against TARP and the bailouts. He describes himself as a Constitutionalist, and his voting record bears that out.
So we chatted. I reviewed the day a bit, and mentioned RightOnline. Several of the members of this site are participating in a breakout session on the Precinct Committeeman Strategy, or how to radically improve our voter turnout and reform the political parties.
I mentioned that while there had been talk of primary challenges to some of the members in the area, I hadn’t heard anything about him. I said I almost wish there were a primary challenge, because that would help us get in practice for the general election, which is going to be a tough at the top of the ticket. He said he agreed, and would welcome a primary opponent to crush. (OK, I added “to crush”. He was more diplomatic.)
He said he was interested in all of that, and he’d be back in touch as the election drew closer.
I’m sure he will. That is what happens when you become a Precinct Committeeman. Smart candidates court you.
But the highlight of the day was actually when the satellite dish salesman came by. I told him I had a deadline, and sent him away. I wrote for a bit, and saw him coming back. I went out to meet him, and apologized for sending him away, that I had a news article to turn in.
That got us talking about politics. It turned out he had a Political Science degree, but was working the summer in Illinois to earn money to get his Master’s. He really wanted out of sales and into politics or government. He described himself as an independent. As I gently questioned him, it turned out that he was a socially conservative Mormon from Utah, fully behind the Tea Party, and didn’t want to identify with the Republican Party. The thing that drove him most, beyond the social issues, was the appalling low voter turnout.
I told him about the PC Strategy: we want people like himself who are committed to conservative principles, and driven by those principles, to join all political parties, starting first with the Republican Party. We will
- Return voting to its proper place in the culture
- Identify, train, and support principled constitutional conservative candidates.
- Reform the political parties, to make them instruments of civic virtue rather than corrupt vehicles for obtaining political power.
He was excited about returning to Utah and getting involved in a party to restore his country. I got his email address, and have sent him to the Precinct Project, to learn how.
Crossposted at Unified Patriots