INDIANAPOLIS—In Greek mythology, there is a princess named Cassandra.
Cassandra is blessed with the gift of being able to tell the future. Her gift is practically useless, however, because she has been cursed so that no one will listen to her truth or heed her predictions. She is powerless during catastrophes.
Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, said on Friday morning during the third Senate reading for redistricting maps that although she does not claim to be a Cassandra, she can relate to that great frustration.
Eleven out of the 11 Democratic state senators spoke Friday while only one of the 39 Republican state senators spoke, and that was the sponsor of the bill, Sen. Eric Koch, R-Bedford. This was Indiana’s last chance for redistricting reform for the next 10 years.
Democrats emphasized the point they have been trying to make for the last couple of weeks during the redistricting process: The supermajority Republican maps are drawn for the people in power, not the people they represent.
Many when they stood up and spoke also uttered a similar line: We all know how the vote will end, but here are my thoughts…
Talian said that this is dangerous, especially for the 40% of non-Republican Hoosiers whose voices are being disenfranchised.
“These maps so artfully guarantee it,” she said.
Sen. Fady Qaddoura, D-Indianapolis, said citizens should be placed at the heart of everything lawmakers do.
“The fact that we have power, that we have titles, does not mean we should be in control,” he said.
Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, said he saw legislators across the aisle get angry when more of his colleagues stepped up to the microphone to speak.
“It’s like, how dare they get up to the microphone and question what we’re doing to affect their lives?” he said.
Taylor compared this legislative competition to a basketball game.
“Do you just do everything you can to make sure the team you’re going to play doesn’t have a chance to score and you can beat them 100 to zero? Or can you let them hit a layup?” he said.
Shelli Yoder, D-Bloomington, acknowledged her constituents' concerns that were voiced at a public hearing held by the Democrats. They asked her what they could do when it felt like they were powerless during the redistricting process.
“When you feel powerless,” she said, her voice cracking with passion, “press on.”
Koch thanked the Democrats for speaking.
“I appreciate the vigor of the debate this morning because this is a matter that deserves vigorous debate,” he said. “It is one of the most important things that we do.”
At the House session Friday afternoon to concur with amendments in the Senate-passed bill, State Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, pleaded with legislators to consider their vote.
“I know that I'm asking you to do something that goes completely against human nature,” he said. “I'm asking you to voluntarily give up your power.”
John Jacob, R-Indy, was the only Republican to oppose the maps.
“I want to go on record because I think this is shameful,” he said.
State Rep. Cherish Pryor, D-Indianapolis, said that her hometown in Fort Wayne was split to suppress the votes of minorities.
“This is not a democracy,” she said.
Despite these plans for a last-minute miracle, the bill passed in the Senate and the House and now will arrive on the governor’s desk for approval to become law.