Thursday, January 30, 2020

Column: Redistricting petition is blatant move that should concern all

Initiative Petition 420 is part of national plan
an op-ed by Michael Clements in the Durant Democrat

The Oklahoma Supreme Court heard arguments this week on a case that is getting little attention but could have huge implications on the local, state and national levels.

The case concerns Initiative Petition 420. If the petition’s backers are successful, they will put State Question 804 on the ballot. And, if that question is approved by voters it will completely change how legislative boundaries are drawn in Oklahoma. We have covered this issue before, but it’s too important to ignore.

Andy Moore, founder of People not Politicians which is pushing the petition, claims he is just a regular guy who got interested in politics after learning about gerrymandering. Moore claims he was just minding his own business when he became so outraged over the issue that he had to do something. So, he started the organization with the populist sounding name to fight the obvious corruption of having elected officials draw district lines.

Moore was so regular that he didn’t even know who Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States under President Barak Obama, was. Which is odd since Moore is also the executive director of Freedom of Information Oklahoma, a group dedicated to fighting for government openness and transparency.

Apparently, the FOI Oklahoma Board was so impressed with the political neophyte that the fact that he couldn’t identify the top law enforcement official in the nation was irrelevant. So, why is Moore’s obtuseness relevant? Because Moore’s redistricting crusade just happens to coincide with far-to-similar-to-be-coincidence national campaign to flip red states to blue states being run by holder.

In another stunning coincidence, People Not Politics web presence is hosted by a company dedicated to advancing progressive political agendas, like those espoused by Holder. Moore claims it was simply a financial decision, but we’re pretty sure that if he was pushing a Republican agenda his Internet Service Provider wouldn’t be quite so blue.

Then there’s the census-data manipulation SQ 804 would require. Moore claims to have no idea how language calling for the incarcerated to be counted differently from all others for the purposes of redistricting, and only for that purpose, got into his proposed amendment. But, to our knowledge, he and his grassroots movement have made no moves to remove the provision.

Right now, the decision is in the hands of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. But even if the court rejects this move, it will not end. It is being pushed by a national campaign intent on bypassing the voters and the Constitution. People on one side of the aisle may be fine with that for the time being since they see it as a way to correct what they consider to be a mistake by the voters. But what happens when the other side controls the commission?

Frankly, we are being sold a bill of goods and the potential impact goes far beyond drawing some boundaries. This is a blatant move to take control an essential part of our political process away from the majority of the people and place it in the hands of a few. And that should concern people of all political persuasions.

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