The Republican-dominated Texas Legislature has effectively silenced the Democratic-dominated Travis County in the United States House of Representatives. What the ballot box could not give the Republican Party they have taken through redistricting. The maps released on Tuesday by the San Antonio Court arguably meet the letter of the Voting Rights Act and will likely stand. The result is that the fifth most populated county in Texas and its capital city will be without a voice in the federal government. Even with the tremendously energetic Lloyd Doggett representing District 35, he, along with our other four United States Representatives, will speak for a territory of which Travis County and Austin residents do not constitute a majority.
The redistricting narrative was about race – the radical portion of the Republican Party denying a growing Hispanic population a seat at the table of power. But the underlying theme is deeper: a shrinking elite unwilling to fairly share the benefits of society with people of any color, heritage or political affiliation likely to reduce the elite’s share.
Travis County is Democratic-dominated, but we have a demonstrated history of electing Republicans where Republican ideals are clearly representative of that population (primarily in large portions of western Travis County). Travis County has been predominantly white, but we have a demonstrated history of electing African-Americans and Hispanics where those candidates’ ideals matched those of the populations they sought to represent. Our proud history of collaboration with minority views, races and heritage is a demonstration of the power sharing the Voting Rights Act seeks to achieve. Therefore, Travis County is not so much dominated by the Democratic Party as it is by the democratic ideal of collaboration to achieve a fair sharing of the benefits of society. It is not the Democratic Party in Travis County that scares the elite. It is the democratic ideals as practiced in Travis County that scare them.