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View from around the state: Gerrymandering case belongs at SCOTUS

— From the Beloit Daily News

Sometimes, the only reasonable reaction to things that come out of government officials’ mouths is a disgusted shake of one’s head.

Consider: Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Brian Keenan, defending for the state the legislative redistricting plan drawn by Republicans after the 2010 election, said it is to be expected that maps will be put together to score partisan advantage.

That’s right. The Justice department lawyer says it should be considered normal and acceptable for political parties to corrupt the system to lock in self-advantage.

Good grief. Argue that the maps drawn in 2011 are fair. Argue that the plaintiffs’ case lacks evidence of harm. Argue that all the rules were followed to the letter.

But don’t tell the people they should just accept the political parties are going to screw them by designing legislative districts to expand and preserve the number of safe seats.

Here are the two premises we believe should guide thinking on the issue: (1) gerrymandering is wrong, and (2) neither political party can be trusted not to do it.

Democrats and Republicans have proved that, over and over, all across America. When Democrats are in charge they corrupt the system for their own advantage — look no further than Illinois. When Republicans are in charge they do the exact same thing, with Wisconsin as the poster child.

In this game of political hide-the-vote one extreme fringe or the other wins, and the people lose. Why would politicians do that to their constituents? Here’s our take: Because most of them do not really believe in democracy. They believe in power. Their own power. And they are willing to grab it and hold it by any means necessary. Gerrymandering is just a tool to them.

So diluting people’s votes has become business-as-usual. Both parties are guilty. It goes on, to one degree or another, in most states.

It is our hope the three-judge federal panel agrees and finds Wisconsin Republicans over-stepped their bounds in 2011 by stealing legislative seats through manipulation of districts. Then we hope the case is appealed and goes before the Supreme Court of the United States, because a ruling there could strike a blow for democracy and provide a powerful reminder to politicians that they are elected to serve the people —not themselves, and not their political parties.

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