RNC chairman Reince Priebus speaking at the 2011 Western Republican Leadership Conference. (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
On a day when most Americans were focused on the stirring second inaugural address of President Barack Obama—and on the broader majesty of the transference of an election result into a governing mandate—Republican state senators in Virginia hatched an elaborate scheme to rig the electoral system against democracy.
Prevented by an even 20-20 divide in the chamber from gerrymandering Senate districts to favor one party or the other, the Republicans knew that their only opening to draw lines that favored their candidates in this fall’s off-year elections would be if at least one Democrat were missing. Inauguration Day gave them an opening, as an African-American senator, a veteran of the civil rights movement, was in Washington to recognize the beginning of the new term of the nation’s first African-American president.
In a matter of minutes, the Republicans introduced and approved—on a 20-19 vote—a new map that is designed to concentrate African-American and liberal white votes in a handful of districts while virtually guaranteeing that Republicans will win a majority of the new districts and control of the legislature. And if a Republican wins the governorship this fall, the GOP will, thanks to a legislative coup and the electoral map it created, have complete control of a state that was easily won by Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, that has two Democratic senators and that most observers believe is trending Democratic.
After doing the dirty deed, the Republican senators adjourned their Rev. Martin Luther King Day session not in honor of the civil rights icon but “in memory of General Thomas J. ‘Stonewall’ Jackson.”
Welcome to GOP Version2013.
Shaken by the overwhelming defeats of 2012—a 5 million popular-vote defeat in the presidential race, an Electoral College wipeout, the loss of two US Senate seats in a year where they had been expected to gain, a 1.4 million popular vote deficit in US House races nationwide and the loss of seven of eleven gubernatorial races that were in play—Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus has made it clear that he wants his partisan minions to use what power they retain to rig the electoral process.