Many times I marvel at the magnitude of brilliance displayed by our founding fathers in their drafting of our Constitution and basic governmental foundations. Their foresight and perceptions were marvelous. It is almost as though they foresaw the travails that would transpire and then crafted intricate provisions for addressing these travesties of past and present developments in our nation’s 233 years.
The basic laws and parliamentary procedures are amazingly resilient and apropos to every era. It is as though the founding fathers had a glimpse of the future in a prescient crystal ball.
Obviously, being British, they derived our laws from their English background. Our legislative system is almost identical to the British Parliament. We have a House of Lords with our Senate and a House of Commons with our House of Representatives. Our senators were originally selected by each state legislature but we changed the Constitution about 100 years ago to have the senators elected directly by the people. However, our senators still serve six year terms, which somewhat removes them from the changing whims of the electorate.
Our House of Representatives was always designed to be the people’s House. It was intended that these seats would change every two years with the tide of public opinion. Our Constitution intends for the House of Representatives to be representative of the peoples’ wishes for the direction of the nation’s policies. This body is constitutionally bound to be equally representative of the people. Thus, one man one vote. Each House district must have the same number of people throughout the country. Therefore, every man, woman and child is equally represented and has the same voice. That is why the Constitution calls for a census to be taken every 10 years. Now that the 2010 Census figures are complete, how do the numbers bode for Alabama?
Alabama’s population has grown 7.5% since 2000. The state’s population is approximately 4.8 million. The nation’s growth rate for the past decade was 9.7%. Therefore, we lagged behind the nation and fell further short of our sister southern states. The South grew by 14.3%, which was the largest growth of any other region. This southern growth is good for the Republican Party. The South has become the most reliably Republican region of the country. It is basically the base of the Republican Party.
The most important factor to be determined by the census is which states will lose or gain members in the U.S. House of Representatives. As was expected, Alabama will retain its same seven representatives. Alabama is one of 32 states with no change. We have had seven House members since 1970, when the delegation dropped from eight. The number of people that each of our seven congressmen will represent will increase from 637,000 to 686,000.
The Alabama Legislature will redraw the congressional districts this year. The lines must be redrawn for the 2012 congressional elections. It is one of the most political undertakings the Legislature will address this year.
However, it may be an easier task to accomplish this decade than in the past. The 2010 elections rendered the Democratic Party hapless and irrelevant in the process. The overwhelming Republican majorities in both the Senate and the House have given carte blanche control of the pencil to the GOP.
It is a safe bet that the new lines will enhance and solidify the 6 to 1 Republican majority in our congressional delegation. It will be easy to shift minority voters out of the 2nd and 6th districts into the 7th district, which needs additional population. This will make the 2nd district safely Republican, while making the 7th district one of the most solidly minority and Democratic districts in the nation.
The 6th district of Congressman Spencer Bachus is currently one of the most Republican districts in America. Bachus is now our senior member in Congress with over 20 years. For the first time in history we not only have one female member of Congress but two, Democrat Terri Sewell in the 7th district and Republican Martha Roby in the 2nd district.
See you next week.
About the author: Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in 72 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the state legislature. He may be reached at http://www.steveflowers.us.