Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It’s over!

Can we bring in the spirit of Roy Orbison to whisper sweet nothings into the ears of the ideologues who are determined to fight to the death over redistricting?

It has been apparent for quite a while that the boundaries for legislative and congressional districts in Illinois that were drawn last year will survive the decade. Which means the political gamesmanship for the 2010s will be rigged in favor of Democratic Party interests – which want to preserve Chicago’s influence.

BUT FOR THOSE who haven’t been able to take a hint, the Supreme Court of the United States this week made it known that they weren’t going to hear any appeal.

As far as the high court is concerned, there is no legal issue involved in the case that needs to be resolved. Therefore, the appeals court panel of judges from Indiana and Illinois that upheld the boundaries will be allowed to remain in place.

It seems there are two last-ditch appeals still pending – one each in the U.S. and Illinois supreme courts. But no one seems to think either has a chance of success.

Republican interests are suing on the grounds that they were deliberately excluded from any say in the preparation of the political boundaries. Of course, what those interests really wanted was a circumstance in which they drafted the boundaries and Democrats were excluded.

SUCH AS WHAT happened in the early 1990s!

So for them to make that argument now just comes across as hypocritical. The fact is that state law creates a procedure by which certain officials get a say in approving new boundaries. And the outcome of the 2010 election cycle for state government posts resulted in ALL of those officials being Democrat.
This week's theme music?

If we had gotten a Gov. William Brady, he would have been able to use his veto power to smack down all of this work. But we didn’t get that. We have a Chicago-centric state government – which may well accurately reflect the fact that two-thirds of Illinois’ population lives in the Chicago metro area.

Which is why it likely is best that the high court is refusing to let this issue drag out any longer.

OF COURSE, CONSIDERING the fact that some members of the nation’s Supreme Court are known to have their own ideological leanings, it could well be that they are merely ‘writing off’ Illinois.

Perhaps the ideologues, in being practical, are going to focus their attention on the election cycles so as to create GOP majorities that would effectively put Illinois in the minority column.

Let’s not forget places like Texas, where the Republican majority there managed to craft a map that makes Illinois’ boundaries look like a League of Women Voters’ fantasy.

Considering that it was the league’s lawsuit in Illinois that the Supreme Court refused to hear, that is saying something.

WHICH IS WHY many political observers believe that the Illinois redistricting is all too integral to any effort on the national level to keep conservative interests from using Republicans from overwhelming the country – even the parts that have no interest in their rhetoric.

As for those people who are going to argue that it is wrong to think of redistricting in such cold terms, I’d argue that it is merely being realistic. There are times when those GOP interests have prevailed in Illinois. This cycle isn’t going to be one of them.

Ultimately, it comes down to the idea that there was a procedure to be followed, and state officials followed it. The fact that political partisanship influenced the process is, sadly, a reality.

As for those who are going to argue that computer programs should be used to draw politically “neutral” congressional and legislative boundaries, I’d argue that computer programs are only as neutral as the people who program them.

WHICH IS TO say that a computer geek could set criteria for political districts that, in and of themselves, have their own agenda. Just like those people who argue that districts should always be perfect squares or rectangles that should NEVER cross over county lines, or those who want ethnic or racial factors to be downplayed.

Because in many cases, those factors can become the obstacles to crafting boundaries that accurately represent our state’s population overall.


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