District voting suit: Compromise or capitulation?

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Compromise is defined as “an agreement or settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.” The votes last week by the Fayette County Board of Education and the Fayette County Commission to settle the NAACP federal lawsuit against those bodies were described as a compromise.

It’s clear what our county’s officials conceded; concessions by the group who brought this suit to our home is less obvious.

Fayette County residents had held at-large votes for both of these bodies until forced by a federal judicial ruling, later overturned on appeal, to initiate district voting.

District voting remains. Reducing the five voting districts to four is a good move. At least the new districts are of a reasonable size and contiguous shapes but District 4 is still barely a majority-minority district whose sole purpose for being is to enhance the probability that Democrats will hold seats on these bodies. The plaintiffs cared not how many districts would be drawn, and as such they conceded nothing.

This is ironic given the words of President Obama during his last State of the Union address, “I think we’ve got to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters, and not the other way around.” True, this is not about congressional districts but one might expect the same reasoning applies.

The one new at-large seat that will allow all county residents to choose one of the members is ostensibly a concession by the NAACP, but I fail to see how this is a compromise by the plaintiffs at all. At best this is window dressing, at worst it becomes a single seat with a significantly enhanced level of power.

In fact, if the Fayette Democrats were able to effectively rally behind one from their party while the other Republican votes for this at-large seat were split, there is a real possibility that this new “compromise” may have just set the stage for over representation by the minority party. Some compromise.

And of course lest we forget, the basis for this suit was that the failure for any African-American to have ever held a seat on either of these bodies was proof that Fayette County was and remains primarily the home of white racists. Have the plaintiffs publicly recanted this claim?

Even faced with recent county election results and cogent arguments with supporting data that will now never find their place in court records due to the refusal of the responsible judge to hold a trial, the original claim that was the basis for the Voting Rights Act lawsuit stands.

The President also spoke of, “Voices that help us see ourselves not, first and foremost, as black or white, or Asian or Latino, not as gay or straight, immigrant or native born, not as Democrat or Republican, but as Americans first, bound by a common creed.” More irony.

You may be certain that this judicially supported gerrymandering will not be described by the plaintiffs and their lawyers or local supporters as a compromise; this was a win for them and only because our elected officials in the end failed to have the courage and conviction to force this to trial, and worst of all used the excuse of continuing legal expenses as their cover.

One wonders if those bankrolling the NAACP lawyers were so concerned … more to the point, one wonders just who does pay their fees and expenses?

Like most Americans, I am not opposed to compromise, as I understand that such is required in a democratic republic. However, this was not a compromise. This was complete capitulation by our elected officials to outsiders who will now use this successful case as yet one more supporting case when they attack the next community for lack of political diversity using race as their weapon.

Sleep well, folks, knowing that when we had the opportunity to take a stand for local government representation, we instead bowed our heads to the Feds and handed over our swords.

Alan Felts
Peachtree City, Ga.