Citizen-Times, 10/2014

[poor predictions ]

Mathematician Edward Lorenz studied air movements to learn why weather is unpredictable. He found that weather events as small as the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings can affect the path of hurricanes. He named this phenomenon the “butterfly effect.”

I think we all feel like that butterfly sometimes about voting. Nature tells the butterfly to flap, with no thought to weather. Duty tells us to vote, but we doubt that we actually affect outcomes.

For Democrats, this is the Year of the Butterfly.

Our hurricane is the redistricting map drawn by Republican computers in Washington after the 2010 census. Republicans won in 2010, so they drew the districts.

Democrats gerrymandered when they had power, but they were amateurs. For example, in the 2010 election, Democrats won seven of N.C.’s 13 U.S. House seats.   After GOP redistricting, the N.C. delegation was 9-4 Republican, with one Democratic win an upset. (Voter registrations in N.C. are 41.9% Democrat, 30.5% Republican, 26.3% Unaffilicated.)

Here’s how the Raleigh News&Observer summarized the effects of GOP redistricting: “Only one of 13 congressional races in North Carolina was competitive last time. Ninety-one percent of the state House races were noncompetitive, and 86 percent of the Senate races were noncompetitive.”

A formidable hurricane for us butterflies to influence. But get ready to flap your wings, guys.

On one level, immediate gratification, our corner of the hurricane is vulnerable. Several of the people representing WNC have been outrageously arrogant since they took office. Gerrymandering makes reelection easy for incumbents, which means they don’t have to answer to their constituents. They can do whatever they please and smirk about it.

Reps. Tim Moffatt and Nathan Ramsey attempted a sneaky power grab of Asheville’s water system in 2012. They didn’t consult the city or even inform them of their intentions. Incredibly, Moffitt met with a city delegation in Raleigh fifteen days before filing his bill – and he didn’t mention the takeover.   Unacceptable arrogance. Michele Presnell is a serial bungler. If Democrats vote, these losers will lose.

But beyond the immediate, if Moffatt and/or Ramsey lose their computer-designed seats, control of the General Assembly in 2020, the next census and redistricting, will be uncertain. And the atmosphere in Raleigh will be conducive to passing a bill to require an independent, nonpartisan commission to handle redistricting. Such a bill passed the GOP-controlled House in 2011 but stalled in the Senate. Polls show around 70 percent public support.

That’s the big gain of a huge Democratic turnout in November. N.C. will have competitive elections. Everybody’s vote will actually count. Good people will be willing to run. Representative democracy will return to NC.

Democratic wing-flapping can turn the hurricane into soft, nourishing rain