Moderated by Rick Badie
Let’s be frank. We’re accustomed to Georgia Democrats and Republicans manipulating voters to expand their political ambitions. Did we really expect the new state redistricting maps — the result of a special redistricting session that ended Aug. 31 — to be less partisan and more attuned to the people’s will? Today, two legislators share their views.
By Stacey Abrams
Related commentary: Maps legal, reflect realities
Georgia is the battleground to find a place for race in our politics.
The state has an exploding minority population that traditionally votes Democratic, and a newly cemented Republican majority that controls state-level governments. In the middle are white Democrats. Indeed, they were 49.4 percent of the 2008 Democratic primary. Yet, the clear goal is to eliminate their survival in the South through redistricting.
At first blush, this may seem to be a purely partisan complaint. But Democrats have conceded that Republicans may draw themselves strong majorities, despite the mere 250,000 votes that separates us from power.
Unsatisfied, the GOP has decided to use this opportunity to silence whites and isolate minorities into enclaves where no racial coalitions can exist. This amounts to a re-segregation of Georgia into a party of white Republicans and black Democrats, leaving Latinos and Asians to fend for themselves.
Such a result is anathema to our legacy and the goals of the Voting Rights Act. It is bad for voters and bad for business.
Republicans have falsely argued that Democrats are angry because we view the Voting Rights Act as an incumbent protection plan or that we have grown too liberal.
As a black moderate Democrat, I am equally concerned about conservatives and independents. Maps should reflect the will of the people, not the fears of the politicians.
As a state, we require a robust, diverse political and economic system in which integration is a reality rather than an ephemeral goal. However, when companies seek to relocate here, their interaction with government will reflect not a bustling, multicultural society but a racially polarized one eons behind North Carolina, Florida or Tennessee.
Diversity is good for jobs. Resegregation is not.
Multiracial coalitions should not be mocked as irrelevant. They should not be seen as silly notions or dangerous precedents.
They are required by our law and mandated by good intent. When B.J. Pak, John Barrow or George Hooks are elected, this must be praised as our collective victory — a victory that reflects the progress of Georgia.
Integrated political districts prove that we are willing to work not only across the aisle but across the racial spectrum. Society is changing. Georgia cannot afford to be left behind.
Rep. Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, is the Georgia House minority leader.