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Texas Observer EDITORIAL Betting on Apathy As of this writing, we are approaching the end of the second special session on redistricting. Remarkably, 11 Texas senators have held out in Albuquerque for more than three weeks now The session officially concludes on August 26, but Governor Rick Perry has vowed to call additional sessions until Democrats knuckle under. The recklessness with which the Republican leadership has pursued this issue is, at first blush, perplexing. Nearly every major newspaper in the state has editorialized against it. About 90 percent of witnesses testifying in field hearings have rejected it. There is no evidence that this is a pressing issue for the GOP grassroots. Many Republican legislators supporting redistricting are clearly doing so against the wishes of those who put them in office.An inventory of the correspondence received by the offices of three Republican senatorsSenator Todd Staples \(RR-R-stituents largely disapprove. In this issue of the TO, we examine one reason for the headlong pursuit of redistricting. “The Rise of the Machine” details the financial muscle of Tom DeLay and his corporate agenda. The U.S. House Majority Leader can make or break a politician and redistricting is his number-one priority. He knows that what’s at stake is nothing less than Republican control of Congress for decades to come, and from there, the direction of the nation. DeLay may be able to threaten freethinking Republicans with a wellfunded primary opponent, but that probably isn’t the main reason for the devil-may-care attitude of GOP leaders. Instead, it’s likely they feel safe in taking refuge in the public’s apathy. The pundits agree: redistricting only interests political partisans. With his characteristic lack of grace, Perry recently gave the leadership’s view “The blue-collar worker out in the state of Texas most likely can’t tell you a substantial amount about redistricting,” he informed reporters. So why are the citizens of the Lone Star State missing the importance of one of the most significant political standoffs in Texas history? It’s certainly not because they aren’t smart enough. Partly the press is to blame. What a disinterested citizen likely seesfiltered through the media in its typically incomprehensible he-said, she-said fashionis just a bunch of politicians bickering. But the rot goes deeper than just what is or isn’t in the news. For decades, the public has been told that government is worthless. Our politicians are only capable of producing taxes and needless bureaucracy. And so JoeVoter shouldn’t be blamed for wondering what does a Congressman really do that matters anyway? A partial answer to that question can be gleaned from the anti-redistricting letters those three rural Republican senators received. Many of them came from local officials. People like Angelina County Attorney Ed C. Jones who wrote Senator Staples: “I urge you to put party affiliation aside and to stand up for the best interests of East Texans.” Or Mayor Ed Smith of Marshall, who begged Senator Duncan not to make a bad situation worse: “We are already at an economic disadvantage when it comes to economic development, competition for grants, and community interests with the heavily populated suburban areas.” These men and women work every continued on page 20 VOLUME 95, NO. 16 A Journal of Free Voices Since 1954 Founding Editor: Ronnie Dugger Co-Editors: Jake Bernstein, Barbara Belejack Session Reporter: Dave Mann Managing Publisher: Jim Ball Associate Publisher: Charlotte McCann Circulation Manager: Rosie Bamberger Chavez Art Director: Julia Austin Poetry Editor: Naomi Shihab Nye Copy Editor: Roxanne Bogucka Legislative Interns: Amber Novak, Emily Pyle Editorial Interns: Helen Ivor-Smith, Emily Rapp, Adriane Sack, Allison Stuntz Contributing Writers: Nate Blakeslee, Gabriela Bocagrande, Robert Bryce, Louis Dubose, Michael Erard, James K. Galbraith, Dagoberto Gilb, Steven G. Kellman, Lucius Lomax, James McWilliams, Char Miller, Debbie Nathan, Karen Olsson, John Ross, Brad Tyer. Staff Photographers: Alan Pogue, Jam Birchum. Contributing Artists: Sam Hurt, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Gary Oliver, Doug Potter, Penny Van Horn, Gail Woods. Editorial Advisory Board: David Anderson, Chandler Davidson, Dave Denison, Sissy Farenthold, John Kenneth Galbraith, Lawrence Goodwyn, Jim Hightower, Kaye Northcott, Susan Reid. In Memoriam: Bob Eckhardt, 1913-2001 Cliff Olofson, 1931-1995 Texas Democracy Foundation Board: Ronnie Dugger, Marc Grossberg, Molly Ivins, D’Ann Johnson, Jim Marston, Gilberto Ocafias, Bernard Rapoport, Geoffrey Rips. The Texas Observer entire contents copyrighted 2002, is published biweekly except every three weeks during January and August \(24 issues profit foundation, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. Telephone: E-mail: [email protected] World Wide Web DownHome page: . Periodicals Postage Paid at Austin, Texas. Subscriptions: One year $32, two years $59, three years $84. Full-time students $18 per year; add $13/year for foreign subs. Back issues $3 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm available from University Microfilms Intl.. 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Indexes: The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981, The Texas Observer Index. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th Street, Austin,Texas 78701. The Books & the Culture section is partially funded through grants from the City of Austin under the auspices of the Austin Arts Commission and the Writer’s League of Texas, both in cooperation with the Texas Commission on the Arts. 8/29/03 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3