The voters in the area around Buffalo Grove always seemed to think Sidney Mathias was a likable guy and a responsive legislator. So every two years, they elected him by fairly comfortable margins to the Illinois House.
Mathias had a built-in advantage in those races. He once had been village president of Buffalo Grove, and most of the community provided the core of the old square-shaped 53rd House District he represented.
Then last year, Mathias got trounced.
Had there been a scandal? Had the voters tired of him? Had he suddenly become unlikable and unresponsive?
None of the above.
When legislative districts were redrawn after the 2010 census, Buffalo Grove was cut in half and Mathias, a Republican, was nudged into a jagged new district that zigged up to the Diamond Lake area of Mundelein and then zagged in a narrow band all the way up the tollway into North Chicago and to the edge of Waukegan. That geography provided welcome turf for an incumbent Democrat, Carol Sente of Vernon Hills, and she used it to full advantage.
You might say ol' Sid never knew what hit him, except he knew it full well: Michael Madigan.
Our point here isn't to defend or lionize Mathias. For these purposes, he's simply an example, and there are many, many others.
But the reality is, Mathias wasn't turned out by the voters. The reality is, under the legislative map-drawing process that Illinois now follows, the voters have very little say. The machine politicians like Madigan have taken it out of the voters' hands.
Republicans knew the day after the 2010 election put Democrats firmly in charge of the remapping process in Illinois that they were going to take it on the chin in the 2012 elections.
And Mathias knew the day the new map was released that his time as a legislator was over.
This wasn't a map that would make Mathias' re-election chances tough. It was a map that made them impossible.
We said in the first part of this editorial series that Illinois' corrupt remapping process -- a process that effectively gives those in power the ability to draw the maps in a way that will sustain them in power -- is a "not-so-silent killer of democracy" in Illinois.
It is exactly that.
In so many of these contorted districts, the only real function voters are fulfilling by going to the polls is to perpetuate the fantasy that our democracy actually functions.
As we said in another editorial on our corrupt remapping process in September, "this naked to-the-victor-go-the-spoils tradition is one of our republic's darkest and most cynical rituals, and in turn, a major reason why, to our licentious politicians' great favor, the citizenry becomes almost hopelessly anesthetized by the public cynicism it begets."
Don't be anesthetized. Do something about it. Grab the power back from the machine politicians.
Say Yes for Independent Maps. Work to get a constitutional amendment on next November's ballot.