Minister's Study

Ministering, writing, and wrestling in a land flowing with sweet tea and deep-fried food

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Democracy in action

Well, that was long and rather boring.

After limping down 100 miles of I-40 in my poor old car, I spent several hours with Commissioner George Brown, a lawyer, a tech person, another newspaper guy (I was quite disappointed when he showed up -- I figured we'd have the scoop on this), and State Representative Carolyn Justice. Justice was in and out as we bounced from spot to spot, as Brown tried to put together a better plan for the redistricting of Pender County.

My observations for the day (this is partly an attempt to organize my thoughts, in case I write a column on the experience):

  • The House of Representatives looks pretty much like an out-of-control high school classroom. The representatives wander from desk to desk talking to each other (those that bother to show up), while the speaker drones on about something no one is listening to. Occasionally, he'll pound on the desk and get everyone's attention for a few minutes, or a guest speaker will come in that they pay attention to, but then it's back to business as usual. There are obvious cliques and cool kids, and some (like the two that are supposed to represent our county) that apparently don't speak to each other unless absolutely necessary.

  • The research department has a really cool computer system for this redistricting stuff. I didn't even want to think about how much RAM that thing needed for what they were doing with those maps and numbers.

  • The food in the cafeteria for the representatives is hardly any better than what we ate in college, and it's a good deal more expensive. But the lady telling everybody what they could and could not take and how much it all costed seemed to be enjoying her job of telling the state's powerful elite what to do all day. Maybe a little too much.

  • Politics, when applied practically, can be very, very complicated. Especially when you get lawyers and court cases involved. Trying to figure out all the possibilities, requirements, rules, precedents, and guidelines for this redistricting is enough to make the head spin. And then you get into the matters of voting and election strategy that have to be considered, and your head wants to quit spinning and just fall off. It's complicated enough that no one I've talked to yet has all the answers, and I haven't talked to enough people myself apparently to get the necessary collection.


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