Fixing our gerrymandered state

by Chuck Banks

 

We laid Congressman Bill Burlison to rest last week. Bill was the last Democrat to from SEMO to be elected to congress.

Back then it was the 10th district, yes, we had 10 districts in 1968 and things were different. Bill was a conservative Democrat who fought for agriculture and rural Missouri. He proposed ending the electoral college and balancing the budget. Times were different, rural Missouri was a doing pretty good. Many of the small towns had shoe factories, small farmers could make a profit, and the rural children could stay home and work after graduating high school either on the farm or in town.

Then something happened, politics changed, Reagan and the Republicans came in and changed the way we look at our government. Government became a bad thing, the “problem” as Reagan said, and big business took over. Shoes moved to Asia, and Big Ag bought up the best farm land and pushed out the little farmer. Missouri shrank and continues to lose population.

Now we have only eight Congressional Districts that are gerrymandered to keep the Republicans in office. The 1st District is St. Louis, is packed with 98 percent Democrats, the 2nd is a winding dragon that gets the top of Jefferson county and is slightly over 55 percent Republican, the 3rd is even more creatively drawn that runs from the Mississippi river in the middle of Jefferson county to just outside blue Columbia and north and is barely a majority Republican, the 4th gets Columbia, then west through rural red counties to just south of blue Kansas City making it just barely red, the 5th is packed with 90 percent Democrats in KC and is the other blue district, the 6th 7th and 8th, with the 8th getting the bottom half of Jefferson, are rural districts that are 60 percent red.

How can one county, Jefferson, have three congressional districts? That’s cheating folks. It all changes after the 2020 election. We will redraw the lines after the next census and the new Constitutional Amendment 1 will not allow either party to cheat if it’s properly enforced. A properly drawn Missouri should have three or four districts of either party. And the same goes for state senate and house seats. Missouri has always been a swing state and the fact that the Republicans hold such a huge majority is an indicator that the lines are poorly drawn.

The importance of bringing this to your attention is to watch the Governor and legislature closely as we approach 2020 and make sure they do not attempt to change the Clean Missouri Amendment that we all passed last year and ensure fair and compact districts are drawn in the next re-apportionment. It is time for honest, service-oriented representation by our government as is laid out in the Constitution. We the people are the government. We are not the problem. Cheaters, liars and big business are the problem and it is government’s job to regulate them.

Charles ‘Chuck’ Banks is the Chairman of the 8th Congressional District for the Missouri Democratic Party, the Vice Chairman of the Wayne County Central Committee, State Party Committeeman, and recreational farmer. He can be contacted at 573-224-3247 or by email at cbanks2819@aol.com.