Like cats and dogs,
politicians from opposing parties rarely play nicely.
They scratch, claw and hiss at each other, simply because it's in their DNA.
That's why it's strange to see so many ideological opponents embracing each other nowadays. We have uber-liberal
making a point — and hard-core
nodding their heads in agreement.
And what issue, pray tell, could be significant enough to make sworn enemies unite?
Protecting their own rear ends; that's what.
And cheating you out of fair elections.
The issue is fair districts.
Later this year, Florida residents are slated to vote on whether they want to end gerrymandering in this state.
Politicians hate the idea. They like drawing districts around their own homes and stocking them with enough like-minded voters to keep them and their friends in office.
The last thing these guys want is a level playing field.
That's why Brown is screaming bloody murder — and why die-hard Republicans like Dean Cannon and
are nodding empathetically, talking about maybe even going to court to stop you, the voters, from having a say.
It's happened before. The last time this was proposed, legislative leaders were willing to spend $50,000 on court costs.
The amendment itself is pretty simple. It essentially says that lawmakers have to draw legislative and congressional districts that make sense. Districts would have to be "compact," "as equal in population as feasible" and, most important, "may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party."
No more splitting a neighborhood in two, just to keep an incumbent in office. No more having your "hometown" Congressman live three hours away.
Theoretically, serpentine districts like Brown's — which starts in Jacksonville and slithers all the way down to Orlando — would become a thing of the past.
But Brown is not alone.
In fact, one of the biggest con jobs in Florida politics is that Republicans have convinced many Floridians — and much of the lazy media — that Brown is the prime beneficiary of this gerrymandering.
She is not.
Republicans were thrilled to dump tons of
into Brown's district because it left more GOP voters for them.
They gave Brown a district where she had a 40-point party advantage, so that they could give themselves
districts with a five-, six- or seven-point lead.
When the Republican lawmakers finished slicing and dicing Central Florida, there were five districts that favored Republicans and only one that favored Dems — even though the region was pretty evenly split between the parties.
Democrats did the same thing back when they ran the show.
Hackery knows no party lines.
And Brown's unwieldy district is not unique.
. His district starts more than 120 miles north in St. Johns County. It stretches just far enough south to take in his tony neighborhood in
. Back in 2000, Republicans were sick of Democrats winning that seat. So they redrew the district lines to exclude Dems and bring in Republicans. The result is a mess of a district — one that stretches through eight counties and covers more than 250 miles. But it's solidly Republican.
The examples go on and on.
's "Orlando" district now reaches into
' includes 24 cities and goes from
to north of Jacksonville. Former House Speaker Tom Feeney drew one around his own house — and then won it.
The result of this precise drawing was evident in 2004 when not a single legislative or congressional incumbent in this state lost an election.
Instead of voters picking their politicians, the politicians were choosing their voters.
The latest defense of this practice came this week in Tallahassee. Brown and South Florida Republican
claimed minorities would be hurt by fair districts, even though the amendment specifically says no such thing will happen.
These politicians obviously can't help themselves.
In fact, to get back to our original analogy, many of these politicians want to continue their dog-like behavior.
They've already "marked" their territory. And they don't want anyone to clean up the mess.
Scott Maxwell, who resisted the urge to take the pet-pol comparison one step further by suggesting neutering, can be reached at