Blame the Voting Rights Act for the Democrats’ diversity drought?

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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This week, an Indian-American Republican female appointed the only black member of the U.S. Senate. Astonishingly, the event didn’t garner the media attention it deserved. But Reid Wilson did write a nice piece about how Republican diversity is being fueled by the tea party.

This trend has some observers scratching their heads, trying to figure out why Republicans are having more success when it comes to cultivating minorities to high-level elected office.

The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake has an interesting theory. He proposes that “a big reason” for the Democratic drought “is actually a law that was designed to help minorities: The Voting Rights Act.”

As Blake explains, the law creates “majority-minority” districts. “The problem with these districts,” he writes, “is that they don’t often elect the kinds of candidates who can run and win gubernatorial and Senate races.”

“Instead,” Blake adds, “they elect candidates who appeal to a very homogeneous electorate that doesn’t exist in a statewide race.”

This isn’t an absurd theory. The VRA was passed in 1965, and was no doubt well intended. And it very well might have been needed for a time. But the phenomenon Blake describes is a prime example of how governmental intrusion comes with unintended consequences — often at the expense of the very people it ostensibly tries to help.

While Republican minority candidates were forced to learn how to organically win over diverse constituencies, Democratic minority candidates won in gerrymandered districts, and were effectively ghettoized.

This is a tacit admission that competition can make us stronger, while protectionism has long-term negative consequences.

The free market works, even in politics.

Matt K. Lewis