“Ignorance is weakness,” understanding that “knowledge is power”

Published 2:24 pm Thursday, December 30, 2021

“Knowledge is power.”

Persons in positions of influence and authority have engineered this ubiquitous axiom to their benefit for centuries. Thomas Jefferson, interestingly enough – a man of both knowledge and power, once wrote to a friend and contemporary that “Ignorance is weakness.” Jefferson was keenly aware of this more compelling corollary, and, some 200 years later, it continues to serve the interests of the few to the detriment of the many.

Next week the Kentucky General Assembly convenes for its 2022 regular session.

Legislators’ first order of business will be to fulfill their constitutional mandate of “redistricting,” drawing new legislative maps determining who voters get to choose to represent them in Washington and Frankfort. How the legislature goes about conducting this process of redistricting is every citizens’ business.

The League of Women Voters of Kentucky (LWVKY) has spent the better part of the past two years educating the public about the issues surrounding redistricting that accompany the decennial census. The

League has also:

• Twice promoted legislation to create a bipartisan advisory commission to work with legislators to draw Fair Maps that put citizens’ interests first. That legislation went nowhere in Frankfort’s halls of power;

• Called on legislators to conduct public hearings to gather citizen input. Our duly elected officials refused, sometimes not even politely.

Remember, ignorance is weakness.

So that’s why the LWVKY launched its own listening tour and education campaign across the commonwealth to show our fellow Kentuckians what Fair Maps, powered by the voting public and not self-serving politicians, can look like . . . rather than the gerrymandered maps we currently have that allow me to share a congressman with people in Owensboro, and to vote for a legislator down the Palisades and across the river, rather than someone from my own county.

Remember, knowledge is power.
During this two-year education campaign, the League has given more than 100 presentations and held a series of Fair Maps Forums in every region of the commonwealth. We invited and saw participation from a vast array of audiences representing civic, business, educational, and general public interests.

We launched the People Powered Fair Maps Petition calling on legislators not to gerrymander, and to carry out their redistricting responsibilities with fairness, transparency, and public input. The League of Women Voters of Kentucky firmly believes that Kentucky’s citizens deserve to see new legislative maps before our politicians pass them into law.

And time is running out. The legislature is, in fact, engaging in a map-drawing effort right now. House Speaker David Osborne reportedly said at a recent press conference that the leadership has had “multiple meetings with members, with the minority (Democrats) and continue to work on a map that we hope to have completed relatively soon.”

The Kentucky Chamber, in a December 17 newsletter, quotes Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer as saying the Senate “was pretty much done” with its map. “We’ll look to tackle this in the first week of the
2022 session.”

Our legislators could have been transparent with the public about the maps they are creating. Our legislators could have avoided the pressure of waiting until the first week of January to address redistricting. On both counts, they chose not to. And the reason isn’t complicated. All too often, and not just with redistricting, elected politicians don’t want to share their knowledge with the citizens they serve.

Remember, knowledge is power.

Remember, ignorance is weakness.

Tip Moody, Wilmore PR Chair, League of Women Voters of Lexington