4:36 PM PST, January 25, 2011
If residents of a Third World country voted and their leaders tried to throw out those votes, Americans would be aghast.
Yet, right here in Florida, your very own leaders have joined forces to overturn your vote.
And it's time for us to get loud.
The subject is Fair Districts, which Floridians overwhelmingly passed last fall, trying to end the shady practice of gerrymandering, where legislators draw tailor-made districts for themselves and their cronies.
But the politicians have never wanted a fair fight. So they've crossed party lines to try to overturn your vote.
The latest news broke Tuesday when it was revealed that Gov. Rick Scott had secretly blocked paperwork needed to make the Fair Districts laws take effect.
He did so on Jan. 7 — three days after he took office and without letting any of his constituents know.
Democrat Corrine Brown wasn't any better. The November votes had barely been counted when she filed a lawsuit, along with South Florida Republican Mario Diaz-Balart, trying to nullify them.
And then Republican House Speaker Dean Cannon decided he wanted to help Brown out by asking the state House to join her lawsuit.
Yes, Republicans and Democrats coming together for the noblest of causes — to protect their own rear ends and fiefdoms.
The gist of Brown and Cannon's claim: Florida voters didn't really have the right to pass Fair Districts.
Apparently these guys think you got it right when you voted them into office — but were way off-base when you supported a constitutional amendment they didn't like.
I guess you're just selectively stupid.
And it's up to Rick Scott, Dean Cannon and Corrine Brown to set you straight.
In reality, no one is accusing these guys of being Third World dictators.
Most dictators are far more charismatic.
More importantly, they don't dictate anything. They rely on far more modern maneuvers and machinations … and the legal system they selectively demonize.
Scott relies upon secrecy and technicalities.
Brown has special-interest donors who fill her legal-expense fund.
And Cannon has legal counsel paid for by the same taxpayers whose vote he wants to overturn.
One of the most interesting things about this political fight, so full of complicated strategies, is that the principle at the center of it all is so simple: Gerrymandering is wrong.
Even schoolchildren know this.
Gerrymandering is why our congressional districts snake through six, seven and even eight counties, sometimes splitting neighborhoods in two.
It's why Brown lives in Jacksonville but represents Orlando; and why Republican John Mica lives in Winter Park but has a district office more than 100 miles away in St. Augustine.
It's also why legislative races are so rarely competitive and why incumbents are so rarely defeated — sometimes not a single one in the entire state.
The system has been rigged for years — by both Democrats and Republicans.
That's why voters of all partisan stripes joined forces to demand that politicians stop drawing districts based upon party affiliation and start using geographic sense.
The amendments were so popular that they passed 63 percent to 37 percent — a victory margin larger than what was earned by many of the politicians now fighting the amendments.
And now the politicians are trying to thwart the public's will.
Do you care? Will you speak up?
If so, you should contact you governor, your congress member and your legislator.
Tell them to mind their own business. Demand that they respect your vote.
After all, these attempts to obstruct democracy aren't happening in a Third World country. They're happening in your own backyard.
Scott Maxwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-6141.
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