And why the maps need to be drawn fairly.
Ever since the passage of the 14th amendment, southern Conservatives have been doing their part to stop people of color from voting. Gone are the days when they would beat you up at the polls if you voted, as the modern era ushered in partisan gerrymandering, voter ID, and voter roll purging. Southern Conservatives are still trying to stop Blacks and Hispanics from having a voice in politics.
Take, Texas’ 1st Congressional District, home of Louie Gohmert, for example. As the congressional district once encompassed much of north and east Texas in the mid-1800s; it now just covers an uneven part of East Texas.
Texas Redistricts after ever census.
As the population grows, districts are redrawn to accommodate an equal representation of population. Or they are supposed to. However, in Texas, districts are often drawn to include the most white people as possible, and disenfranchise the most Black and Hispanic people as possible. This is done intentionally, because Black and Hispanic people typically vote Democrat.
Greg Abbott explained it best in a 2011 court brief he wrote while still Texas’ Attorney General.
“In 2011, both houses of the Texas Legislature were controlled by large Republican majorities, and their redistricting decisions were designed to increase the Republican Party’s electoral prospects at the expense of the Democrats.
It is perfectly constitutional for a Republican-controlled legislature to make partisan districting decisions, even if there are incidental effects on minority voters who support Democratic candidates.”
He didn’t stop there, “[A] jurisdiction may engage in constitutional political gerrymandering, even if it so happens that the most loyal Democrats happen to be black Democrats and even if the State were conscious of that fact.”
By his own admission, Greg Abbott acknowledged that the Texas GOP partook in partisan gerrymandering to disenfranchise Black people.
After the 2003 redistricting, Texas’ 1st Congressional District went Red, Louie Gohmert won, and he’s held it ever since.
There are a few districts, which I’ve heard people say is a lost cause to fight for. Gohmert’s district is one of them. On our Facebook page, we’ve often had people walk about the culture in East Texas, the racism, and how it won’t change until the maps are drawn fairly. This may be the case.
However, more than the 1st District has a Republican problem, much like the rest of Texas, they have a non-voter problem. Just look at the election results since 2004. (As of the 2010 census the voting age population in this district was 524,000; we’re going to go with that, even though the population has grown)
|Year||(R) Vote||(D) Vote||Non-Vote|
If all of those non-voters showed up to the polls, could Gohmert be ousted? Maybe. Maybe not. But, the amount of non-voters outweighs the people who voted for Gohmert. It’s possible they think their vote doesn’t count or they’ve become depressed or uninvolved because they haven’t had fair representation in decades? Yes, it’s possible. The fact remains, Gohmert’s district has a total population of 768,000 (as of 2018), yet only an average of 20% of the population wants him to represent them.
Poverty in East Texas.
Poverty in East Texas is higher than both the state and national average. 3 of the counties in Gohmert’s district (Gregg, Smith, and Upshur), are in the top 200 of America’s poorest counties.
The average per capita income in Texas’ 1st Congressional District is $19,900, which is 1/3 of the national average. And 25% live below the poverty line. (This data is all before the Coronavirus). And less than 19% of this district has a college degree.
Has their elected official, Louie Gohmert, done anything to help his constituents? No, in fact his votes in congress have directly gone to hurting these people and making their life harder.
In 2007 a bill was introduced to congress, which would make sure that people living on section 8 would live in homes or apartments which were not dangerous and up to codes, it would have also have given people living on section 8 incentives to find employment. Gohmert voted against it.
Gohmert also voted against funding CHIP in 2007 and 2008. He voted against high speed internet in rural areas. He voted against a bill which would have helped low-income families obtain affordable housing and against another bill which would have helped people living in poverty buy foreclosed homes. Gohmert even voted against a bill that would have helped veterans living in poverty.
In 2008, while America was in recession, he voted against extending unemployment. But Gohmert didn’t just want people to be able to eat with government unemployment money if they were out of work, he also didn’t want them to eat with SNAP benefits either, so he voted against funding that after cuts.
However, his voting record doesn’t show him trying to save money, in fact he’s voted to waste money as well. Like in 2013 when he voted to make drug testing a mandatory requirement for receiving unemployment. Despite the mountains of evidence that very few people on unemployment do drugs and the states which already tried this wasted millions on this program.
How else has he voted to waste money?
He voted against a bill which prohibited government officials from using public money to sponsor NASCAR race cars. Who knew this was even a thing? I wonder if his tune on that has changed now that they’ve banned the traitorous Confederate flag.
And apparently Gohmert is pro-price gauging, as he showed us in 2008 when he voted against prohibiting oil companies from price gauging.
What about education?
With partisan gerrymandering, Louie Gohmert represents a district that largely needs more education. Yet, he voted against funding NPR, he voted against reducing the student loan interest rate.
But has Gohmert done anything to help is district?
In 2019, he voted against requiring corporations to disclose how many jobs they outsourced. He voted against stopping credit card companies from predatory practices. Gohmert was against federal protection of union workers. He was against raising the minimum wage and voted to block every bill to raise it.
Based on his voting record, it’s easy to see that Louie Gohmert is pro-discrimination.
- In In 2020 he voted against protecting elderly people from discrimination in the workforce.
- Gohmert voted against the Lily Ledbetter Act.
- In 2009, he voted against expanding employment discrimination protection.
- He didn’t think that people deserved equal pay for equal work in 2007, a belief he still continues today.
Until extreme partisan gerrymandering ends, we’ll continue to have a government that doesn’t work for the people.
In the 17 years that Louie Gohmert has been in office, he has time and time again voted to keep people in poverty impoverished. He has favored special interest, like oil, offshore businesses, and NASCAR.
From the outside looking in, the world wonders what this district was thinking voting this man into office. However, between the partisan gerrymandering and dozens of other voter suppression tactics, Louie Gohmert was only voted in and kept in by 20% of his district’s population.
Even if you don’t live in Texas’ 1st Congressional district, you can help them there by voting for the Democrats in your district this year. The maps are due to be redrawn again next year and having fair representation in the Texas Senate and House is the only way to assure that the maps are drawn fairly.
If you do live in the 1st District, please vote. Tell everyone you know to vote. Our elected officials make decisions that effect nearly every part of our lives. We need people in Congress that will vote for our interests, and not against.
Running against Louie Gohmert this year is Hank Gilbert. Check him out, read his issue positions, he has some fantastic ideas on how to improve East Texas for everyone, which include access to rural healthcare, raising the minimum wage, and bringing manufacturing jobs back to East Texas.
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