Friday, October 28, 2011

How Redistricting is like the Debt

There's some debate lately out on local Yahoo!Groups lists, as to how ordinary people can gain or lose from the various plans for redistricting.  Redistricting happens every ten years, and it's a process through which the population in a particular political division is segmented, theoretically, at least, in order to provide for elections that will reflect the will of human communities.  In fact, though, redistricting seems to be more about partisan power and allowing those IN power now to stay in control of government. 

To be blunt, I'm not paying a lot of mind to the redistricting process or the individual proposals.  I've been thinking more and more lately that Prince George's County might be considered "Democrat" territory in terms of party affiliation but, as far as the actual impact of government and its policies on real people, it is a lot more conservative and could easily pass for a Republican county. 

Officials are constantly stressing wanting the County to be business-friendly.  What they seem to mean is that they want large corporations and government agencies to do business here.  At present, other than United Parcel Service, I do not think there is even one multinational or national company that has its headquarters in PG.  But whether more corporate presence would be good, or not, isn't clear.  WOULD such businesses invest in the local community in real earnest?  I think a lot of businesses in that realm tend to look for ways to invest offshore.  They send jobs overseas.  They evade paying fair corporate taxes.  They often provide little or no health care for employees.  They pay exorbitant salaries and bonuses to the TOP few executives, who more often than not, don't live ANYWHERE in fact (they have several "homes" but don't shop locally, don't attend church or community events in any of those communities).  Tell me why again, we should be so business-friendly?

Civil liberties and community involvement in PG look more like what a Republican stronghold would prefer, too.  Oh, yes, there are certainly people of color in high office -- we made national news when Jack Johnson was elected County Executive.  (And look where THAT got us!!)  The trouble is, that a lot of those in high office of ANY race, creed, color or gender, share more in common with those corporate moguls mentioned above, than with you and I and our neighbors.  It seems more and more as though the powerful live elsewhere (say, in Howard County or Virginia) and only come to PG for work meetings when they must.  THAT'S not being involved in our community.  Much of our working population also works in DC or VA, leaving the community pretty unpopulated during the work week.  It's hard on any new business that doesn't have outside backing, to get started or to thrive when there are no workers to visit on lunch hours or before or after work.  Add to this that when people's commutes are as long as ours, and when making a living means a job at a discount store, AND a job at an auto services establishment AND a job in Rockville, the average person isn't going to be attending many Town Halls or PTA meetings!  Sure, that's always been something of an issue -- that twenty percent of the people do eighty percent of any work.  But it's much more of an issue today in PG than in the past.  "Community" has virtually evaporated.

All of this means that debate over redistricting is a lot like that national furor over our "debt crisis" to use the money media's term.  That is, we are being distracted from the issues that matter in the lives every day of everyday men, women and children.  We're being asked to divide against one another, while our health care and job options languish.  What matters, isn't what name the party has.  What matters, is whether you have a good job, whether you can afford to feed and clothe and provide for yourself and your loved ones, whether you are healthy and able to think and connect with your neighbors.  Just as the "debt crisis" distracted us from the partisan politics that keep the US Congress from working for working people, so "redistricting" is distracting us from the common deep concerns of ALL of us, about having lives worth living and the true American Dream.

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