Wisconsin newspapers again urge redistricting reform

They’re asking again, politely but firmly. Can Wisconsinites at least get a public hearing on the bills AB 185 and SB 163 to reform our rotted system for redrawing voting districts? On Sunday the Wisconsin State Journal and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel made the case again, here and here, as they had a month earlier along with 7 other state newspapers and one TV station. Rarely have we been so interested (in a positive way) in the work of our hometown State Journal.

They’re actually trying to effect a change, and a difficult one at that. Actually it’ll be close to impossible.

While we support all this, and hope for the best, we do predict this effort will go nowhere until we get a bunch of new lawmakers. And how difficult will that be? That’s kind of the problem, isn’t it.

When the Republicans achieved total dominance in Wisconsin government, they immediately set themselves to cementing their power. They not only gerrymandered voting districts, but they went to work on voting restrictions and forced through unnecessary new ID requirements. They pushed through Act 10 destroying the most important interest group supporting their opponents. And they’re continuing to fiddle with the rules governing voting and campaign finance — more money to be allowed from big donors, and more anonymity for donors. In short, they have done what they can to rig things in their favor. And redistricting may have been, in their view, the most important and wonderful piece. The Republican majority may have a range of interests, but they certainly took care of self-interest with remarkable speed and determination.

Leaders Vos and Fitzgerald have said clearly they have no interest in revisiting their old accomplishments.

Against this we have 9 Wisconsin newspapers, one TV station, the usual good government groups (Common Cause, Wis. Democracy Campaign), and a generally sleepy, distracted, and not very well-informed citizenry. Well, the good news is… the situation’s better than usual, because of the 9 newspapers and one TV station.

But we’ll see.

Can polite-but-firm editorializing have any effect on people who (probably correctly) believe their best strategy for winning elections involves rigging some rules? Are they supposed to feel suddenly awash with shame, and decide to reverse course? That’s going to take some pretty good editorial writin’….

We’ll see.