Our view: GOP shows plenty of chutzpah on gerrymandering

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Pennsylvania’s Republican legislative leaders have unleashed their most miraculous beast yet, unveiling the staggeringly self-serving “Hippo-critic,” a phantasm of fat-cat flatulence, a chimera of shameless chicanery, a jaw-dropping giant that dwarfs the Jabberwock and Gerrymander combined.

It is genuinely hard to hyperbolize just how much chutzpah state senators poured into a letter urging the League of Women Voters and 18 plaintiffs to drop a lawsuit challenging the 2011 redistricting maps.

Where to begin? Well, President Pro-Tem Joe Scarnati’s drivel about the cost is a good start.

“Taxpayers are paying a hefty price for … attorneys to argue gerrymandering,” Scarnati scowled.

No, Joe, taxpayers are paying a heavy price because you and your GOP friends pushed the tolerated yet vile practice of gerrymandering to new lows, contorting legislative districts into shapes that would make a deformed gargoyle recoil.

All you had to do to save that money was draw districts responsibly, without shredding cities, counties and municipalities to assure more GOP representatives. It’s been said here before: Republicans and Democrats are supposed to gain majority control in legislatures by persuading voters to pick them, not by picking their voters.

As an aside, Mr. Scarnati, if you want to save taxpayers beaucoup bucks, shrink the bloated Pennsylvania legislature. Seriously, steal a slogan from Nike: Just do it.

Then there’s Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman’s Darth Vader-esque “join us” appeal to the plaintiffs: “Instead of working against us, we invite them to participate in our ongoing review of the redistricting process.”

The difference, of course, is that in the Star Wars mythos, Vader actually turned against the dark side, rather than paying behind-the-mask lip service to the idea. Corman and company can claim to want to fix the system, but since they are the ones who broke it so thoroughly, the promise carries as much water as a bottomless pail.

When it comes to gerrymandering and redistricting, there is no reason to examine and identify “ways it could be improved.” The way is clear: an independent commission, or in this day and age, a heavier reliance on computer programs to create genuinely contiguous, equitable and non-partisan districts every 10 years.

Republicans and Democrats alike have long had opportunities to make those changes. The opportunity exists right now through SB 22, a bill that would set up an independent commission.

But Scarnati blurted the best BS from all this bunk when he said “The lawsuit is partisan politics under the guise of good public policy,” presumably without an iota of irony in his voice. Why irony? Well, let’s describe the GOP gerrymandering of 2011.

It was, to be sure, partisan politics under the guise of good public policy.

The bottom line is so basic a 6-year-old could suss it out: The lawsuit is just, the GOP defense is garbage, and the solution is simple: redraw the maps and reform the redistricting system.

Slay the Hippo-critic once and for all.

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