Democrats are rigging the legislative redistricting process to secure for them a permanent majority in New Jersey.
By Doug Steinhardt
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The New Jersey state constitution is rich with history and we have a small window in which to fight for its integrity. Legislative Democrats are scheming to weaken it and marginalize the value of your vote, forever.
There have been three New Jersey constitutions: 1776, 1844 and 1947. The first was never amended. The second was amended three times, to conform with the US Constitution’s 14th and 15th Amendments and to provide for free public education. The current version was amended seven times, although four of those amendments were adopted in 1947, with the constitution itself. Since then, it was amended just three times, to get rid of the old county court system, in 1966 (and revised in 1995) to conform with federal apportionment laws, and in 2005 to reflect the transfer of executive power. That’s it.
But now, politicians in control of the state legislature want to strike at the heart of our constitution. Their amendment doesn’t solve the state’s fiscal crisis or even address it. It doesn’t promote the health, safety or welfare of New Jerseyans.
Instead, Democratic leadership is conniving, over the holidays, to rush through a constitutional amendment that will rig the legislative redistricting process and secure for them a permanent majority by creating legislative districts that allow greedy politicians to take you and your votes for granted.
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If they succeed, they’ll no longer have to earn your support, because the rules will change to perpetuate one party rule, forever. It isn’t criminal, but it should be.
These same politicians blame party “bosses,” but many are themselves political “bosses”, they just don’t want you to know it. Even worse, they abuse the powers of their office, not to give more power to you, but to take more power for themselves. Their proposed amendment debases 242 years of New Jersey constitutional history so a few, power hungry legislators can prostitute the State’s constitution for their selfish needs. We’re a better state. We should demand better leadership.
As voters, we deserve more respect. After all, our votes should matter.
A fair and bi-partisan redistricting process is the key to giving voters a legislative map that reflects their votes and interests.
Without competitive elections and “swing” districts, politicians get complacent. If we want to get Trenton moving, politicians must be accountable to their constituents. Elected officials must be made to work hard for your support, not take it for granted. Safe districts give us self-contented, career politicians, not problem solvers.
The bill, ACR60/SCR43, is proposed by a few, powerful men to eliminate Republican competition and perpetuate their personal power. Period.
Democrats drew the current legislative map, which has proven to be a gerrymandered quagmire. It has responded more to the will of political insiders than the state’s voters. For example, in 2013, Senate Republican candidates earned 52 percent of the vote statewide, but won only 40 percent of the legislative seats. How does that happen? Gerrymandering.
The current legislative map creates very few “swing” districts and a plethora of “safe” ones. These “safe” politicians have grown carnivorous with power and now want to erase any chance that they will lose that power or have to compete to keep it. Billions of dollars of tax hikes later and we can all understand why.
Ironically, Republicans wrote the State’s current Congressional map, the one that resulted in the loss of four, previously Republican congressional seats. And as difficult a pill as that is for state Republicans to swallow, that’s how districting maps are supposed to work. Democrats came out in force in 2018 and the map responded to their will.
Our constitution forms the bedrock of our state’s government, where legislative redistricting is something most people think about once a decade, if at all. Neither should be taken lightly or altered or amended unconcernedly. Together they form a basis for our democratic process and a handful of politicians want to rig that system for their gain. That’s a big deal and New Jerseyans everywhere should care.
If you’re reading this, I ask you to find your state legislator and contact him or her. Let them know that they need to earn your support, that you demand fair elections, the you don’t support SCR43, and that you won’t make despots out of a select few legislators. We simply can’t afford it.
Doug Steinhardt is chairman of the New Jersey Republican Party.
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