Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Be Careful What You Wish For

You may have missed it last week with the holiday and deer hunting going on, but a Federal Judge ruled that it is unconstitutional to have Democrats living in highly-concentrated areas in Wisconsin.  That is the gist of a ruling that finds the current legislative districts drawn up after the 2010 census are illegal. 

The term "gerrymandering" was used to described the drawing of the district lines by Republicans in the Democratic suit.  The "mander" part of the word comes from "salamander"--which is what was used to describe districts drawn up by Democrats in Massachusetts in the 1800's to protect their candidates:

When you look at the current Wisconsin district map, you don't see narrow strips of one district winding around others to capture the voters Republicans want:


As I have mentioned before, it is very easy to place Democrats into just a handful of districts in the state.  They tend to live close to their Government jobs so they can take Government-provided transportation or use public bike share programs to ride Government-provided trails while sending their kids to Government-run magnet schools.  Or perhaps they are stuck in Government-supported housing in areas where Democrats have been in power for 50-years and there are no economic opportunities.  Republicans tend to like having more space and they prefer to drive directly to wherever they want to go whenever they want to do it.

Political watchdogs have long decried the lack of "competitive elections" in Wisconsin.  They think that if the lines are redrawn--usually by a "non-partisan" non-elected committee--balance will be brought to the system.  But I think Republicans should engage in some real gerrymandering instead.  Redraw districts that will break up the cities of Madison and Milwaukee into dozens of little pieces--pairing them with outlying, heavily-Republican areas.  Let's see what happens when some representatives from Milwaukee who haven't faced a challenger in years, have to go up against well-funded candidates from the WOW (Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington) counties.  And it would be interesting to see a self-identifying trans-gender vegan from the UW Madison campus area have to visit a Monroe dairy farmer and spend ten minutes lecturing him on how his operation is torturing animals--and then ask for his vote.

So Republicans should make an effort to make sure there are NO safe seats for Democrats anymore--and make it a "fair contest" in every district.  Remember, they asked for it.

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