We’ll always have Sacramento
February 14, 2013
One problem with good-government schemes designed to oust political people from control of political matters is that they can’t. Even if political tasks like judicial selection or legislative redistricting are entrusted to panels of eminent persons, the eminent persons remain captive to human nature. Let’s not kid ourselves.
These thoughts are occasioned by the cyclical pleas seen last week in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, for an eminent persons’ panel to draw state legislative districts.
The editors find it troubling that Republicans won five of eight Wisconsin congressional seats last November while Democrats collected about 1.5 percent more of all congressional votes statewide. As redistricting outrages go, this is pale tea; It’s hardly an indictment of Republicans if voters in Democrat-leaning districts (perhaps seeing government as the center of their universe,) give their candidates fatter margins.
And it’s awkward for the editors—who object to the concentration of each party’s voters in “safe” districts—when they criticize Republicans’ $400,000 legal expenses defending the district lines they drew for Hispanic areas in Milwaukee. Presumably the editors know the GOP mapmakers were sued precisely because—according to the plaintiffs—they hadn’t concentrated Hispanic voters enough.
Who does it better? California, where “voters in 2008 turned redistricting over to an independent group of citizens. The result: more contested races.” We suppose it would be bad manners to mention that, sanitized redistricting or not, the California Legislature is in the process of doubling down on bankruptcy. To paraphrase “Casablanca,” we wouldn’t bring up California if we were you; it’s poor salesmanship.
The editors settle the question themselves by admonishing Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) that “one day the shoe will be on the other foot.” If that’s true, as undoubtedly it is, it will prove the system works.