MSNBC’s Velshi Crew Condemns GOP: Redistricting Meant to ‘Disappear’ Minorities

On his Saturday show on MSNBC, Ali Velshi welcomed Prof. Cristina Beltran and NPR and PBS veteran Ray Suarez to discuss the latest threat to democracy: redistricting in Republican-majority states. 

Velshi led Beltran, not with a question, but a declaration, “Many people say if the census says we’re more diverse the representation should get more diverse. In fact, it is likely to get less diverse.” Beltran responded with an incendiary accusation, “the politics of Republican redistricting, kind of reflects an ugly logic of removal, right? Where they try to disappear certain voices and populations, right? So, I think they’re trying to disappear a lot of Americans politically.”

Later, Velshi returned to Beltran and played a clip of former Obama attorney general Eric Holder declaring:

So there’s not a tension between fairness and Democrats doing better. If it’s fair Democrats will do far better. Democrats don’t have to cheat. We don’t have to gerrymander. Republicans do, in order to deal with a nation that’s more diverse, that is younger, that is urban, that is more suburban, and that people need to focus on is less, less, less rural. 

This is interesting logic considering there are presently a lot of remarkably odd-shaped districts that were made to insure minority representation in Congress. Occasionally, Democrats elect a white man anyway in a minority-majority district, like Steve Cohen in Memphis, Tennessee.

The natural assumption among liberal Democrats in the media is that liberal Democrats never gerrymander in their states. Anyone in the mid-Atlantic area knows the Democrats already manipulated one Maryland Republican out of Congress, and are now working on the only one left, Rep. Andy Harris. 

Of course, Velshi didn’t acknowledge that. Instead he asked, “What is the solution to gerrymandering? Is it this For The People Act before the Senate that the Democrats have a trouble getting over the hump on?” Beltran agreed and regarding next year’s midterms, declared:

BELTRAN: We have to organize politically as the crisis of this is because we face two choices. One side we have the possibility of becoming a truly multiracial democracy in which political power is shared and where every person has an equal voice and vote. On the other side is — that’s the chance to live the highest ideals of freedom and democracy and the other side is cramped and scared and full of conspiracy theories and we can’t let that win so we have to politically mobilize to make sure that we have free and fair elections now and in the future. .

Velshi then turned to Suarez, wondering if the Democrats’ alleged “big tent” was hurting them. Suarez actually pointed out Democrats have gerrymandered Illinois and Maryland, but was quick to point out Republicans are worse, because of geography and the Supreme Court: 

The key event of the last generation is the gutting of the Voting Rights Act. It made preclearance no longer necessary so states where there’s been significant growth like Florida, Georgia, and Texas will be able to remap without the federal government looking over the shoulder and see in states even where minority presence has increased enormously, maps where the people in power get to choose the voters rather than voters choosing the people in power. 

Republicans need Court supervision, but Democrats don’t. That’s MSNBC’s definition of fair.

This segment was sponsored by T-Mobile.

Here is a transcript of the August 14 show:

MSNBC
Velshi

9:51 AM ET

ALI VELSHI: I think that is conclusion is counter-intuitive. Many people say if the census says we’re more diverse the representation should get more diverse. In fact, it is likely to get less diverse. 

CRISTINA BELTRAN: Exactly, exactly, and I think that’s a real challenge here is that the census, one hand, is telling us something we already know: America is a deeply multiracial nation but the politics of Republican redistricting, kind of reflects an ugly logic of removal, right? Where they try to disappear certain voices and populations, right? So I think they’re trying to disappear a lot of Americans politically. Stephen Miller couldn’t do it or Trump couldn’t do it in their politics in a complete way though they tried with anti-immigration politics but the GOP really can’t make the nation whiter so they use redistricting to strip citizens of their power and to make Congress look less like America. 

9:53

VELSHI: Cristina Beltran, you know a lot of Republicans say — I don’t know why people gang up on us for this. Everybody has gerrymandered in history, so have Democrats. Listen to what Eric Holder had to say about this. 

BEGIN CLIP

ERIC HOLDER: So there’s not a tension between fairness and Democrats doing better. If it’s fair Democrats will do far better. Democrats don’t have to cheat. We don’t have to gerrymander. Republicans do, in order to deal with a nation that’s more diverse, that is younger, that is urban, that is more suburban, and that people need to focus on is less, less, less rural. 

VELSHI: What is the solution to gerrymandering? Is it this For The People Act before the Senate that the Democrats have a trouble getting over the hump on? 

BELTRAN: I think the for the people act is critical. I think the issue on the table now is to get election reform through Congress so that we can have fair and free elections, because if we don’t deal with redistricting we are going to be locked out of being represented in our society. So we talk about off year elections aren’t usually super, really, very good for Democrats as Ray was saying. This time has to be different, we have to organize politically as the crisis of this is because we face two choices. One side we have the possibility of becoming a truly multiracial democracy in which political power is shared and where every person has an equal voice and vote. On the other side is — that’s the chance to live the highest ideals of freedom and democracy and the other side is cramped and scared  and full of conspiracy theories and we can’t let that win so we have to politically mobilize to make sure that we have free and fair elections now and in the future. 

VELSHI: So Ray, right now it seems that Republicans across the country in state houses across the country and in Congress generally speaking are single minded of purpose, purpose being winning, purpose being defeating the other side and holding on to power. Democrats seem to have different views. We got moderate Democrats in the House who want to pass the infrastructure bill before the larger reconciliation bill, we have progressive Democrats don’t want to do that. We have some Democrats who want to keep the filibuster and others that don’t. Does this work against Democrats right now? Does being that big tent, while Republicans are single minded about purpose with respective to voting and demographics, hurt Democrats? 

RAY SUAREZ: Well, Democrat, Democratic voters often choose to go to nonpartisan boards to do their redistricting as they have done in many states in the country but we shouldn’t let Democrats off the hook, they know how to practice the dark arts of map making, as well as you can see in places like Illinois and Maryland. I think the key event of the last generation is the gutting of the Voting Rights Act. It made preclearance no longer necessary so states where there’s been significant growth like Florida, Georgia, and Texas will be able to remap without the federal government looking over the shoulder and see in states even where minority presence has increased enormously, maps where the people in power get to choose the voters rather than voters choosing the people in power. 

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