EDITORIAL: Force the issue on redistricting - Beloit Daily News: Opinion

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EDITORIAL: Force the issue on redistricting

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Posted: Saturday, August 17, 2013 10:00 am

Joint message by Wisconsin media asks citizens to stand up for themselves.

REGULAR READERS of this space know the Beloit Daily News believes strongly that Wisconsin is on the wrong road when it comes to legislative redistricting, and the system should be restructured prior to the next cycle following the 2020 census.

With predictable resistance from the political class it sometimes feels like we — and lots of like-minded citizens — are just shouting in the wilderness, our voices ignored by those for whom power is the only consideration that really matters.

Maybe they’ll hear this.

OVER THE WEEKEND Wisconsin newspapers and television stations are joining their voices together to call for good-government action in order to avoid repeating the secret and excessively partisan reapportionment process that followed the 2010 census. Each editorial organization will state the case in its own words and its own way, but the message is the same.

Stop bottling up reform bills in committee. Convene open public hearings on the two pieces of pending legislation — Senate Bill 163 and Assembly Bill 185. Let the people have their say on this crucial policy subject — and open your ears and listen to them. Require the politicians to be on the record, in full view of citizens, whether they support reform or stand behind absolute partisan control of this key component for free and fair elections.

Sure, one might say majority Republicans already have expressed their view, by flatly refusing to allow discussions on reform. We don’t accept that and neither should taxpayers. It’s too easy to toss the bills into a closet and close the door. It’s another thing altogether in open hearing, with advocates bringing forth facts and demonstrating for all to see how election integrity is harmed by rigged lines, to then cast a vote to keep corrupting the process. Let’s not make this easy on the political class.

ONCE AGAIN, WE WANT to point out what is so obvious to those of us straddling the Illinois-Wisconsin border in these parts. This amounts to equal opportunity corruption, because neither party can be trusted to manage the process fairly. Democrats drew absurd lines intended to lock in their majority in Illinois, just as Republicans did in Wisconsin. Neither side demonstrated any serious regard for the people swept within those lines. It’s been all about the parties, all the time.

Here’s a reasonable question, though: Why should Wisconsin citizens who favor Republicans care about any of this? They’re winning, right?

Because everything shouldn’t be about partisanship and choosing sides in a liberty-loving country. It should be about whether one believes citizens of all political persuasions deserve competitive choices in fair elections.

And if that’s not enough, try this: Because one day Democrats will win again anyway, and when they do payback will be a red rage fogging their minds. Will Republicans still cling to the status quo when it goes against them? Didn’t think so.

TO ASSURE fairness, competitiveness and election integrity the reapportionment process needs to be taken out of the hands of the politicians, who are thoroughly corrupted by their own interests. The reform bills before the legislature are modeled closely on the Iowa system, nationally recognized for its nonpartisan virtues.

This weekend Wisconsin’s press speaks with one voice. We hope readers and viewers are listening, because that’s what can make the politicians listen as well. Below is a list of your elected Wisconsin representatives. Fill up their email inboxes. Blister their ears.

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