Illinois needs redistricting reform, too
On Feb. 20, The Daily Herald brought news of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered/imposed congressional redistricting plan for the keystone state. Pennsylvania joins Wisconsin, Texas and North Carolina as states that are in various stages of having their egregiously gerrymandered, Republican-drawn, congressional districts challenged in local courts. Per The New York Times, Pennsylvania Democrats had hoped for a fair map but were instead gifted with a gerrymandered map favoring their party by the Democratic-leaning state supreme court. Apparently in the eyes of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court two wrongs do make a right.
Isn't it time that this country moved past the adage of "To the winner goes the spoils"? Historically and in most cases presently, congressional and legislative districts are drawn by the party in charge of the statehouse following the decennial national census. Partisan politics demand that the party in power gerrymander the districts to protect incumbents and maximize their team's victories in future elections. The result is often a convolutely drawn map made up of contorted districts. This effectively results in elected representatives picking their constituents instead of the electorate choosing their representatives. An added bonus for incumbents is reelection protection.
True advocates of districting reform believe in a system such as is employed in Iowa. Their process mandates that districts be contiguous, compact and follow political boundaries (meaning county and city/town/village boundaries are subdivided only when absolutely necessary to balance head count). Such mapmaking ignores partisan politics, incumbents and special interest groups. We desperately need this type of mapmaking in Illinois and many other states.
While much attention is currently and correctly placed on Republican gerrymandered states around this country, I wonder when these same critics of Republican gerrymandering will concern themselves with the mess that is Speaker Michael Madigan's Democratically gerrymandered Illinois map.