Political parties are like gangs. They take good elected officials and force them to do things against their best interests, their better judgement and sometimes the interests of their districts. All political parties are guilty.
I also believe that, just like gangs, elected officials turn to parties because we are not paying attention. We don't provide what a healthy democracy needs to survive. We, by and large, are not politically involved with our communities anymore. Politics is boring. Policy issues are complicated. We don't have time. So our elected officials turn to their party for protection, money and esteem. It's our fault.
Today, our 21st District legislators voted for the governor's redistricting plan in the final vote. That plan moves Laurel into the new 4th district. They had to vote for it, their party demanded it.
Earlier in the day they voted FOR an amendment that would have changed the map to move Laurel back into the 5th district. That was a courageous vote and I applaud their bravery and thank them for standing up against their party. That amendment failed 26-107. Your concern and encouragement helped them make that stand.
But this problem is not really about our 21st district delegation. It's not about redistricting. This issue is a symptom of a much bigger disease. This is about the corrosive nature of party politics in our state and our nation. These party gangs are corroding our elected officials and through them hurting our communities.
It's unfortunate that the 21st delegation was thrown under the bus and forced to defend their party's awful map. I know that some of them are upset with me personally for pointing that out. It's uncomfortable under the bus. I agree with them that this is not a fair issue. They were thrown between their party and us.
So what are we to do? The redistricting issue is over. We had a minor success. For one courageous vote, our delegation turned their backs on their party. That's a first step. We need to find more opportunities.
We must continue to keep watch. Frush, Rosapepe, Barnes and Pena-Melnyk are good, smart and hardworking people. We must keep looking for issues where we help all of our elected officials fight off excessive partisan pressure. We can give them money, give them protection and give them hope. Democracy only works if we all stay involved.
In my mind, it's the only way we get our leaders back from the gangs.