Should congressional districts be drawn to ensure that minorities win seats in Congress in rough proportion to their populations in the state?Should congressional districts be drawn to ensure that...
Should congressional districts be drawn to ensure that minorities win seats in Congress in rough proportion to their populations in the state?
I have three comments on this.
First, I do not think that it is right to draw districts solely for the purpose of putting racial minorities together into one district. The Supreme Court has agreed with this view. I think that drawing districts on the basis of race is against American principles.
Second, I do not think it is good policy. If some districts have lots of minorities and some have none, it is worse for minorities than it would be if all districts had some minorities. If there are some minorities in more districts, more representatives have to pay at least some attention to minority demands. If you put all the minorities in one district, that is the only district whose representative will care about them.
Finally, the idea of lumping minorities together depends on the idea that descriptive representation is necessary. This is the idea that says that a person can only be represented by someone who looks like them (of the same race, class or other characteristic like that). I do not believe in this. I think that people can be properly represented by people of any race so long as they think alike (as opposed to looking alike).
There is some merit to the idea of assuring racial minorities are represented. For many years, Congressional districts were drawn to achieve the opposite effect; white majorities in districts was assured by deliberate gerrymandering. Allowing a minority racial group to have its voice heard in Congress will assure that their voices are heard. If each district has some minority, then they will be a minority in that district in more ways than one. It is doubtful that their elected representatives will be as sensitive to their positions on political issues, and even more doubtful that their views will be heard in Congress. One may believe that people can be properly represented by another of any race, and perhaps they can. Still, without the understanding of the culture, history, and needs of the minority community that a member of that community will have, any representation will be limited at best.