Whenever you challenge the status quo, there will be an immediate uproar. Change is historically hard to ignite and distinctly difficult to push forward. The objections are expected and predictable.
“But it’s always been this way!”
“If there was a better way, surely we would have done it by now.”
“It’s not perfect, but it’s the best it can be.”
And while these arguments may be understandable, they are not justifiable.
Recently, people in power have armed themselves with these familiar objections to a non-partisan solution to redistricting.
Oklahomans currently have little power in the redistricting process, and the politicians in power (Republican, Democrat, or Independent) are able to draw their own districts.
What does this mean for Oklahomans? It means we aren’t truly able to hold our politicians accountable.
Our legislators aren’t particularly moved to act in the people’s best interests because they’re busy moving district lines to secure their votes. This practice has a name: gerrymandering.
While some in our state are content with a practice that hurts our schools, roads, and hospitals, I am not. And a diverse group of citizens aren’t happy with our process, either. People Not Politicians is a non-partisan coalition that believes there is a better future for Oklahoma. We aren’t satisfied with partisan gerrymandering that effectively keeps those in power who have the power. While many jaded politicians can’t see another way, I know our citizens can see an alternative.
And here’s why that alternative is far better than letting elected officials choose their voters.
• The current process is undemocratic
Choosing our leaders is crucial to a sustainable and strong democracy. Yet, the current redistricting process flips this core principle upside down and gives elected officials the power to choose their voters. And yes, it’s true, it’s been like this for a while. But does that make it right, responsible, or effective?
Oklahomans are starting to realize the answer is clearly “no.”
The process is not working, and our state’s crumbling schools and roads point to this failed policy. Democracy is speaking, and we need to listen to our people. We need to adopt a redistricting process that is transparent, clear and democratic.
• Oklahoma deserves accountable politicians
Oklahoma’s politicians aren’t held accountable under the current redistricting process. Instead, our politicians are able to hold their seats of power by carefully cutting up the district map to their advantage. In order to create a better Oklahoma, we must examine how we choose our leaders. Our elected officials can spark growth in our local communities – if they are held accountable by the voters that put them in power.
There is an alternative to partisan gerrymandering. We can improve our democratic principles. And Oklahomans have the power to move our state forward.
Change means accepting we’re not perfect, and moving forward means leaving some broken practices behind. But I know Oklahoma is ready and eager for a redistricting process that serves our people – not just our politicians.
It’s time to stop clinging onto partisan practices that hold Oklahoma back. It’s time to adopt a process that keeps our leaders accountable and our communities strong.
It’s time for a fair, transparent and non-partisan approach for redistricting.
Bo Broadwater is a former Warr Acres City Councilman.