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oned it. They stole fair elections from the American people….” Blum is not alone in his assessment of the major parties’ positions on redistricting. Some Republicans, especially in North Carolina and Georgia, have argued that racial redistricting helped Republican congressional candidates win recent elections in adjacent “bleached-out” districts. Sociologist Chandler Davidson of Rice University points out that liberal Democrats have loudly criticized racial redistricting for the same reasonthat it results in the election of more minority members, only at the cost of leaving them politically isolated. But Davidson also argues that returning to supposedly color-blind methods is unrealistic and mistaken. “There is a trade-off,” Davidson says. “Given how difficult it is for blacks to win elections from majority white constituencies [in the South, something less than one percent in the last thirty years], you’ve got a choice between not drawing districts in which blacks can win anymore, and therefore seeing the percentage of blacks in elected office in the South decrease rather firmly and rather rapidly, and on the other hand, increasing the numbers of Democrats in Congress, if only by a few seats. Admittedly, that’s a difficult trade-off….Yet it’s rather presumptuous, or rather flippant for people to say, when faced with that kind of a trade-off, ‘Well, it’s Obvious that we ought to have fewer blacks.’ And it’s liberals who are saying that, I want to be clear about this. The most strident in criticizing these districts nowadays are white Democrats, liberals and moderates, who say either up front or between the lines, ‘Look, whites can represent blacks at least as well as blacks can themselves and maybe better. And in any case it’s going to increase the numbers of Democratic votes and that’s more important than having a black face in Congress.’ Defenders of the minority districts argue that the districts empower minority votersand not white politicians of whatever stripeto have a direct effect on the political process. Al Kauffman, an attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund in San Antonio, argues that it is possible to draw majorityminority districts without necessarily “whitening” surrounding districts. “But even if that happens,” he adds, “I still think you have to consider minority rights. I don’t think either party has been the greatest friend of the black or Mexican-American population…. This is a non-partisan effort to try to get minority rights vindicated.” dward Blum argues that his Campaign is not a threat to the rights of minorities. He points to his parents’ involvement in the civil rights movement, and his own background as a University of Texas student activist and “McGovern liberal” in the 1960s, particularly his co-chairmanship of a student group whose purpose was to pressure the university administration to increase minority enrollment. Now forty-four, he looks back at his twenty year-old self and says that while he still supports minority recruit ment, he wouldn’t “suspend the rules” to encourage greater enroll ment of minority students. In a recent letter to the Houston Chronicle, Blum derided State Senator Rodney Ellis \(also a suc mative action, saying that Ellis’ “privileged” African-American daughter, Nicole, shouldn’t expect special preference over a poorer but “better qualified” white student. Asked about Blum’ s personalized version of affirmative action, Ellis was blunt. “I think his argument is ridiculous….He’ s either very naive, or very insensitive. In either case, he’s a very dangerous man, because in racial matters, he wants to take us back to 1954. Either he doesn’t know American history, or he doesn’t care.” Ellis, who by most accounts has established a distinguished record in the Legislature since taking his seat in 1990, says that his initial election was only possible because he ran in a majority-minority district, and that without that base, poorly-funded minority challengers have little chance of success. Ellis is convinced that a return to “color-blind” districting will result in an inevitable decrease in the number of minority representatives in Texas, although the effect might not be apparent immediately. “I’ve got a record and a war chest, so I could survive. But a new black candidate, without an established reputation or funding, could not succeed. And you would slowly but surely see a return to an all whiteor perhaps white and HispanicLegislature in Texas.” Ellis’ comments were echoed by Dallas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, whose 30th Congressional District must now be redrawn as result of Blum’s lawsuit. “This [color-blind argument] is just a smokescreen,” Johnson said. “This is a part of the racist reaction to overturn affirmative action in general…. Minorities were never elected until we had minority districts.” But Blum points to the election of minority politicians in white majority areasnotably the election of Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk as evidence that “bloc voting” by race is no longer a crucial concern for redistricting. Chandler Davidson responds that recent studies establish a preponderance of the evidence on the other side. “The increase in the number of black legislators in the eleven southern states is due almost entirely to the fact that under pressure from the Justice Department, the state legislatures, between the early 1970s and the late 1980s, simply increased the number of majority black districts in those legislatures. And I just think that’s very powerful evidence that people tend to overlook.” The full effects of the recent Supreme Court decisions remain uncertain but, as Professor Sam Issacharoff of the University of Texas points out, they have already become an open invitation to further litigation, likely to continue until the next redistricting cycle beginning in 2000. Issacharoff says the inability of the courts to resolve the matter suggests that under pressure of this controversy, the redistricting system itself has broken down, and the political process needs to find some alternative. “The real question will be,” says Issacharoff, “whether we want to have the states involved in redistricting at the racial angle has put immoderate pressure on the districting process, and it’s now clear to me…that single-member districts drawn by politicians haven’t survived all that well.” Issacharoff and other observers, the most well-known being aban See “Color Blind,” page 20 “A NEW BLACK CANDIDATE, WITHOUT AN ESTABLISHED REPUTATION OR FUNDING, COULD NOT SUCCEED. AND YOU WOULD S LOWLY BUT SURELY SEE A RETURN TO AN ALL WHITE-OR PERHAPS WHITE AND HISPANIC-LEGISLATURE IN TEXAS.” THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13 JULY 12, 1996