Friday, May 14, 2010

Colorblind


The Wall Street Journal notes a small step forward in civil rights in the United States, although not the sort the civil rights lobby would approve of. It seems some Hispanic activists sued the city of Irving, TX, claiming that the city's system of "at-large" voting for city council was discriminatory because there had never been a Hispanic council member. Since no one considered that maybe the problem was the proposed candidates sucked, the city redrew its voting districts, creating six single-member seats along with two at-large ones. One of the single-member districts was one of those computer generated gerrymander jobs specifically designed to be a "Hispanic" seat. (I await the creation of a "conservative" seat for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. We've been shut out of office too long!).

Last Saturday was the first election under the new court imposed system, and the results were surprising to anyone with a liberal's view of human nature: Texas, Gerrymandering and Segregation
The newly created "Hispanic district" was won by Mike Gallaway, a black candidate who easily beat Trini Gonzalez, an Hispanic. And Roy Santoscoy, another Hispanic, defeated a white incumbent for one of the open at-large seats that was supposedly out of reach to Hispanics due to Irving's allegedly racist voting system.
Yes, a black man is sitting in the "Hispanic" seat, and a Hispanic is sitting in one of the at-large seats that supposedly were reserved for white people. Incredible as it might seem, Americans - even the ones in Texas! - tend to pay attention to the content of people's character, rather than the color of their skin. Gallaway, for one, seems like a genuinely decent man ... for a Democrat (guffaw!). Trini Gonzalez, his opponent, was gracious in defeat, lamenting only at the low turn out. Only 449 people voted in the "Hispanic" district for which Dallas-area public interest lawyers had fought so valiantly to bring into being. I don't know. Maybe people figured the fix was in, since the district lines were drawn to achieve a particular result. (or maybe *gasp* many of the people in a "Hispanic" district are not technically allowed to vote).

Anyway, regardless of how the lines were drawn, the voters managed to elect the right guy in the end. They also managed to show, in a small way, that race continues to slowly recede as a negative factor in the minds of many Americans.





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