Wisconsin Republicans Can Do What Democrats Did Not Achieve


There was no way for me not to think while reading the opinion page of the Wisconsin State Journal about the book Outrage, Passion, and Uncommon Sense: How Editorial Writers Have Taken On and Helped Shape the Great American Issues of the Past 150 Years.    Earlier this summer I read about some of the great editorial writers from over the decades who have used newspapers to advance issues and promote causes.   The power of the editorial page has made differences over the years, and hopefully can do so once again in Wisconsin.

With the use of many editorial writers from around the state the Madison paper showcased the strong prevailing message to our elected officials concerning the need for reforming redistricting.  It truly made for a most compelling and forceful message on the opinion page for Sunday readers.

From Beloit to Green Bay, and from Wausau to Milwaukee there was great unity from newspaper editorial boards about the need to have public hearings on legislation designed to take partisan politics out of drawing boundaries for congressional and legislative districts.   The level-headedness of this idea for reform has allowed for a broad consensus to jell around the state.   The problem is getting those who have the power to grant even a public hearing on these bills.

I thought the Wausau Daily Herald made one of the most direct and reasoned appeals when it wrote about the merits of the legislation.

Blatantly partisan redistricting is an embarrassment if you care about  democracy. It also has real and negative effects. Politicians in “safe”  districts, liberal or conservative, are driven to take extreme positions that  appeal to their base rather than to the less ideologically driven median voter.

Since 1981, Iowa’s congressional and state legislative maps have been drawn by nonpartisan legislative staffers without considering voter registration numbers or the location of incumbents. Their main considerations are keeping districts compact and uniform in population.   Politics was removed from the creation of the maps, and it has never failed to produce fairness and agreement from all quarters.  In other words such a method of redistricting  works!

The reluctance to even have a hearing on this idea is most regrettable.  State Senator Mary Lazich who chairs one of the committees that needs to hold a hearing has no plans to do so as she is adamantly opposed to the whole idea.  Whatever happened to a deliberative body weighing the pros and cons of an idea, especially one that has such broad-based bi-partisan support?

I would like to think this idea about reforming our outdated way to redistrict might rise above partisan labels and the usual politicking.  But it seems given the inability to even get a hearing that perhaps a partisan spin might be needed to get Republicans energized over this idea.

So it might be noted that when Wisconsin Democrats had the power in both the executive and the legislative branches they let slip by a perfect chance to make this policy shift that would have greatly benefitted the state.  If Republicans want to show that they care about effective governing, and do hear the needs of the voters they claim to advocate for they can now hold hearings on Assembly Bill 185 and its counterpart Senate Bill 163.

Then the GOP can pass them out of committee, send them to the assembly and senate floor, pass them, and await Governor Walker’s signature.

The Republicans can then rightly lay claim for doing something Democrats were unable to achieve while in power.

Meanwhile the entire state can know something was done in Madison that allows for a better functioning government.

2 thoughts on “Wisconsin Republicans Can Do What Democrats Did Not Achieve

  1. Pingback: The Presteblog | Held to a higher standard

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