There was a thoughtful response to my column about redistricting in the Washington County Daily News. Here it is and I’ll respond below.
To the editor: Owen Robinson’s March 8 column (“High court rules on redistricting”) provides a commendable review of the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court decision, which is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. But I disagree strongly with his concluding comment that “the resulting district lines will matter little to anyone who is not vying for public office.” We voters will get either
Democratic Governor Evers’ redistricting maps, or the maps created by the GOP-controlled Legislature. Either way, voters lose, and lose big.
Robinson is enthusiastic about leaving the Legislature in charge. Talk about letting the fox guard the henhouse! Every politician’s top goal is re-election, right? Predictably, when legislatures redraw these maps, after every ten-year census, they use reams of data on past voting patterns to minimize the chance that incumbents of either party will lose their next election. If you live in Madison or Milwaukee, and might wish to elect a Republican, you’re out of luck. Electing Democrats in Washington County is likewise a non-starter.
The parties conspire to provide each side’s incumbents a “safe seat” in power.
This is called gerrymandering. Both parties are guilty as sin. The new maps going into effect in Illinois and New York are a joke — just as gerrymandered to help Dems as the Republican-slanted maps in Wisconsin or North Carolina. If an incumbent can satisfy her own party’s activist base, she’s in like Flynn. From 1970 to 2010, House districts rated as “strong Democrat” or “strong Republican” doubled, to 60%. This produces extreme partisans like AOC or Marjorie Taylor Greene. And partisanship is the root-rot that’s gridlocking our political system.
The solution is to remove the job of redistricting from self-serving politicians, by creating a nonpartisan process. Grassroots movements in other states are doing just this. So can we. Don’t settle for what we’ve got, as Robinson seems to do. Google Fair Maps Wisconsin. Check out the Brennan Center website. Get involved. Let’s recapture our voting power and renew Wisconsin politics.
Bruce L. Reynolds West Bend
He’s not wrong. That is exactly what politicians do. But his solutions has a couple of significant flaws. First, the notion that we could assemble a group of completely disinterested people to draw the maps is a fantasy. Everybody has biases. Everybody. They have biases because people are people. It is our nature.
Second, removing the responsibility for something as important as redistricting from elected representatives and giving it to unelected people is never a good idea. Elections have consequences, so the saying goes. Elections are where we, the people, can make a choice and hold people accountable. Unelected people are also unaccountable. In what world does removing accountability improve the situation?
Finally, Bruce lets the cat out of the bag when he advocates for the Fair Maps Wisconsin group. This is a leftist organization that is backed by other leftist organizations. Why are they pushing for an unelected cabal to make the political maps? Because then they can staff that cabal with other leftists. They aren’t about fairness. They are about eliminating Republicans from participating in the redistricting process forevermore.