They steal that which does not belong to them.
And then politicians wonder why people do not trust them.
What politicians crave most is power. They will do anything to hold it, to exert it, to wield it like a whip.
They hate fair maps because such maps take the power away from the politicians and put it in the hands of those to whom it rightfully belongs.
The people themselves.
This is not a partisan issue.
Both Republicans and Democrats are guilty. Both parties fight to the bitter end to hold on to the power they have, accusing the other side of game-playing with the voters’ will.
They’re both right about that.
At the state level, Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly held a series of public hearings on redistricting. Many Hoosiers showed up to testify. The overwhelming majority of them were in favor of finding a non-partisan means of drawing the state’s legislative maps and taking the power out of the lawmakers’ hands.
They might as well have been trying to shout underwater.
The legislators snoozed while the people spoke, then went about drawing maps that were as fair as a pro wrestling match.
The result of the politicians’ shenanigans will be that Indiana’s 55% to 58% Republican voters will continue to have between 75% and 80% representation in both the Hoosier delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives and the state legislature.
In Indianapolis and Marion County, where Democrats possess—and “possess” is the way politicians see such things—similar advantages, they have yet to commit to an independent process to redo their maps. This refusal is particularly galling, given that Marion County Democrats called for Republicans at the state level to do just that.
Apparently, theirs is a “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do” form of leadership.
Nor are these gluttonous grabs for unscrupulously attained authority confined to the center of the state.
Not long ago, the St. Joseph County commissioners held a public hearing on election maps in their county.
A huge crowd showed up. Almost all who were there wanted to have maps that reflected the makeup of the county.
Two of the three commissioners—both Republican—voted to adopt maps that made two of the three districts more Republican. Then, for good measure, they opted to shove as many minorities and Democrats as they could into the third district.
Their map looks like an abstract painting drawn by a blind person, but it does what the politicians want done.
There is a chance—a slim one—to keep this gerrymandered redistricting effort from becoming reality, but I wouldn’t bet the milk money on it.
The arguments these politicians use for their grubby grabbing are the sort that are persuasive only to 3-year-olds.
The other side does it.
They started it.
They’re even worse than we are.
Here’s the reality: Whoever does it, whoever started it, whichever side is worse, gerrymandering is wrong.
It’s just wrong.
What’s more, it’s un-American.
Both of our majority political parties have names that pay homage to the fundamental nature of the American experiment—namely, that we are a representative democracy.
That means our government is supposed to reflect the will of the people it serves.
The founders of such a system were less focused on matters of the moment—tax rates or even questions of social justice—than they were on making sure government stayed connected to the people.
For the founders, the process was the point.
The fact that both parties engage in a race to the bottom corrodes faith in our ability to govern ourselves. It undermines our faith that elections are fair, and it makes people hate the political process.
There’s one other thing it does that should be of interest to politicians.
It turns the polls that weigh public approval of the two parties into something resembling a survey that asks the question: “Which do you prefer, syphilis or gonorrhea?”
Both Republicans and Democrats have earned that distrust.
Because what they’re doing is wrong.
Just plain wrong.