To some politicians and pundits, the governor’s Redistricting Reform Commission is a waste of time. Certainly covering its hearings and deliberations as much as MarylandReporter.com has done is seen as a huge waste of time and space. These stories are not widely read, although Todd Eberly’s testimony to the commission on how “Redistricting should restore representative democracy” was read by almost 5,000 people, one of our top stories of the past two months. Probably anything the redistricting reform commission proposes will not pass the legislature next year or the year after that. It will probably not pass until the first year of a Hogan second term — a reelection Democrats will do their damnedest to prevent from occurring.
State House reporters waste a lot of time covering legislation and proposals that are not likely to happen right away: abolition of the death penalty, increasing the minimum wage, raising the gas tax, same-sex marriage, decriminalizing marijuana.
Propositions that face uphill fights often take years to pass. It is part of the process of educating the legislators and their constituents, changing minds and influencing public opinion. Redistricting reform involves taking power from a powerful elite, and that doesn’t happen without a struggle, often a prolonged one.
Hogan’s Redistricting Reform Commission keeps the issue alive. It is frankly not a top concern for most people, or even the governor himself. For Marylanders, it does not have the importance of jobs, taxes, education and health care. Gerrymandering is not life threatening; it does not take money out of your pocket; it does not make you sick. Gerrymandering is simply wrong, especially as it has been manipulated by Republicans in other states and Democrats here.