Have Texas Dems Lost Sight of the Civil Rights Movement?

Many Texas Democrats choose to perpetuate the myth that a voter’s ethnicity can predict which party they support. Democrats claim to represent Hispanic Texans, but that claim doesn’t match up with how Hispanics in Texas vote. Hispanics, like all Americans, are not a politically cohesive group and hold a plurality of political beliefs.

In 2010, the Republican Party of Texas elected more Hispanics to statewide office than the Democrat party. There are presently six Hispanic Republicans in the Texas Legislature, two Hispanic Republicans on the Texas Supreme Court, and numerous Hispanic Republican officeholders throughout the state. Nationally, a significant number of majority Hispanic Congressional districts have elected conservative Republican members, including: CD 21 Florida (75.6% Hispanic), CD 27 Texas (73.2% Hispanic), CD 25 Florida (71.6% Hispanic), CD 18 Florida (66.9% Hispanic), CD 23 Texas (66.4% Hispanic), CD 2 New Mexico (51.8% Hispanic) and CD 28 California (51.2% Hispanic).

On Jan. 20, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the court drawn Texas redistricting maps and rightfully chastised the San Antonio court for its judicial activism. The lower court erred by adopting the arguments of partisan factions seeking to redraw the maps produced by the Legislature. The San Antonio court's disregard for the Legislature's map was in fact disregard for the will of the people of Texas, who spoke through their elected representatives.

Before the Supreme Court ruling, two Federal judges voted to change the boundaries of District 117. Honorable Jerry Smith, the other Federal judge who heard the case and voted against changing the district, wrote “any purported challenge to the Bexar County districts is without foundation,” and “we should not use past elections as a crystal ball to predict how future elections will turn out.” He went on to explain that the court “is prevented from making such complex political predictions tied to race-based assumptions,” and “nothing in the State’s plan will hinder Hispanic opportunity to register and vote in greater numbers than before.”

While the San Antonio federal court clearly has jurisdiction to review redistricting maps to ensure compliance with constitutional protections, it cannot override the political will of the people of Texas when no such violations have been found. Racism in America is still a reality, but partisan factions should not use the Voting Rights Act to push a partisan agenda. The Texas Democratic Party has lost sight of the goal of the Civil Rights Movement—that we abandon superficial racial barriers and come together as a unified American people. Liberty, freedom and optimism are what truly define what it means to be an American, not race or political affiliation.

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