by Max Brantley
John Brummett explains, as I did the other day, that growing the 4th Congressional District into Fayetteville is not so strange as it first appeared.
As several have noted, too, think of this: Suppose the 4th District elected someone from Fayetteville to Congress. Would a congressman from Fayetteville and one from Rogers be a bad thing for Northwest Arkansas?
Before we start throwing the word gerrymander around too readily, ask Sen. Gilbert Baker, the Republican who's emerged as champion of African-Americans, for a copy of that map of his that purports to find a 48 percent black district in Arkansas. Beware, Democrats of all colors, of Republicans like Baker bearing supposed gifts.
Anyone notice Rep. Mike Ross' comments in the D-G about redistricting this morning? How no district with a 40 percent black population had a black congressperson? Surely Mike Ross isn't saying that white people won't vote for a black person. Conservatives like Ross, who is generally indistinguishable from Republicans on most things, have long assured us that the low vote for Barack Obama had nothing to do with pigmentation, but rather with careful analysis of policy differences. Up and down the ballot, even in the case of a church maintenance man running for statewide office, voters recognized the ills of Obama policies and chose candidates who'd clearly differentiated themselves on relevant policy questions. Didn't they?
Baker's observation that only Arkansas among the Southern states has failed to elect a black member of Congress has something to do with the fact that the black population percentage is only around 15 percent and, unlike, say, New Orleans, there isn't a black population center big enough to easily draw a district with a dominant minority population.