Communities of Interest?

As a result of Proposal 2 of 2018, Michigan’s redistricting process has undergone a seismic shift. Michigan’s district lines are no longer drawn by the people’s elected representatives in the legislature, but a panel of thirteen randomly selected bureaucrats. “Communities of Interest” serve as the primary guide baked into this Constitutional amendment.

It’s a shame they neglected to define it.

The Citizens Redistricting Commission is holding town hall meetings and taking comments from the public in an attempt to resolve the issue. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and “experts” at the University of Michigan have pushed for the commission to draw maps based not on where people live, but on quasi-sociological “common bonds,” “shared identities” and things that “bind communities together” like race, religion or ethnic heritage, and “how a community currently engages with the political process.”

That’s right. Far from taking politics out of the redistricting process, their recommendations make it the entire basis for their “new theory of representation.”

Retired Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman discussed this in the Wall Street Journal:

Michigan is on the verge of adopting what proponents describe as a “new theory of representation,” in which the state’s redistricting process would be built not on actual communities—counties, cities, townships and villages—but on so-called communities of interest. If the proposal goes forward, these new electoral districts will be based on concepts like identity and affiliation groupings. The result will be a representative system increasingly unresponsive to “we the people,” the one grouping to which all Americans belong and in whose name our constitutions were ratified.

It’s a riveting read, detailing the potential pitfalls of viewing Michigan’s future electoral maps through the shifting lens of identity politics. Instead of districts that follow geographic boundaries that have existed since before Michigan even became a state, they have proposed an entirely new take on gerrymandering, where districts are mapped by voters’ ideology.

Justice Markman closes with the following:

The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission can do the public a great service by uniting behind an electoral map that curtails gerrymandering, partisanship and self-dealing. Or it can continue these same abuses, albeit in a camouflaged manner, by transforming the people of Michigan’s towns, cities and townships into a mere assemblage of favored and disfavored interest, identity and affinity groupings.

It’s important that you share with the commission how YOU define your community of interest. Although the last of the MICRC’s 16 Public Hearings are occurring this week, they will continue to accept comments from interested individuals throughout the process.   

You can submit public comment to the Citizens Redistricting Commission online at https://www.michigan-mapping.org. Stand up for your actual community, and help ensure that Michigan has maps that fairly represent the voters that live in each district.

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