Democrats hotly oppose gerrymandering...except in Illinois

Illinois' gerrymandered 4th congressional district. (U.S. Department of the Interior)

Illinois’ gerrymandered 4th congressional district. (U.S. Department of the Interior)

Three cheers for the Democrats who are fighting mad about how some states have gerrymandered their legislative districts.

The National Democratic Redistricting Committee is making a big stink about  gerrymandering, the undemocratic and unfair practice of drawing legislative district lines to gain a nearly insurmountable advantage over opposition candidates

“The political system is broken. The fight to fix it is now,” declares a fundraising email, asking support for its campaign “targeting 13 states during the 2019-2020 election cycle, including 3 gubernatorial races, 17 state legislative chambers, and one down-ballot race.”

Wow, I thought. Finally, some bi-partisan support for efforts to reform Illinois congressional and legislative districting, a system that has skewed the map into laughably “compact” and “contiguous” fiefdoms. In Illinois, gerrymandering so solidly guarantees that incumbent and and politically subservient candidates are elected that sometimes no one runs against them.  Efforts to reform the corrupt system have been stymied by the very lawmakers who benefit from gerrymandering.

So, I  went through the committee’s list of endorsed candidates, to perhaps in some small way give them a boost in the coming election. Except for this:

There are no Illinois Democratic candidates on the list. Not a single Democrat is willing to stand with the group’s chairman, Eric H. Holder, former attorney general in the Obama administration in making the pledge:

For too long, partisan gerrymandering has been used as a tool to manipulate electoral districts to benefit political parties instead of the voters.

I believe every elected official should be accountable to the people they represent, which means we need to end gerrymandering.

I pledge to support fair redistricting that ends map manipulation and creates truly representative districts.

Obviously, the group is interested only in stamping out gerrymandering when it’s done by Republicans. The group has twisted a meritorious campaign into a partisan assault. (If it’s not clear, I oppose gerrymandering conducted by either Republicans or Democrats.)

NDRC allies itself, as do I, with liberal Supreme C0urt Justice Elena Kagan who dissented from a high court decision that held partisan gerrymandering is a political issue  not to be decided by the courts. In a dissent, Kagan correctly warned that partisan gerrymandering allows politicians to entrench themselves in office and could “irreparably damage our system of government.” She said. “Voters should choose their own representatives, not the other way around.”


But not in Illinois, where Mike Madigan, the House speaker who runs the state with an iron hand and the chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, controls the redistricting process. Not a single Illinois Democrat to my knowledge has the guts to stand alongside the national party leaders who agree with Holder that, “The biggest rigged system in America is gerrymandering.”

How interesting that the current Democratic screed is about how “democracy is in danger” as never before because of the autocratic President Donald Trump and his nomination of Appellate Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Any Illinois Democratic who now takes up that warning about how democracy is in danger while ignoring the mess that gerrymandering has created in Illinois is a shameless hypocrite.

After the completion of the current census, redistricinting will become another hot issue in Illinois. And voters who want to do right by themselves and other Illinoisans should ask the legislative candidates where they stand on the issue.


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    I am sure Dennis meant to mention redistricting in IL is largely governed by the federal Voting Rights Act so the "gerrymandering" chant does not come into play here. Maybe there pace limitations? Mean editors?

  • Largely governed, perhaps. But the silence from Illinois Democrats about the unfairness of gerrymandering in Illinois speaks volumes.

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    Let me paraphrase your article for you...

    "Republicans upset that anyone other than them wants to gerrymander districts"

    See, I was able to do the same thing you did in far fewer words.

  • In reply to BillDCat:

    Gerrymander is wrong, no matter who does it, Are you defending the practice?

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    > Are you defending the practice?

    Nice, very intellectually honest of you.

    I've been searching the history of your articles, I'm trying to find the one you wrote attacking the Republican party for their Gerrymandering practices. I couldn't find it. Could you point it out for me?

    Also, I wanted to follow up on a previous reply of yours. You claim (I'm paraphrasing here) that you didn't say that Covid was like the regular flu. But, you also claimed that the fatality rates would be the same as for other viruses that we didn't follow social distancing for. Which virus were you referring to?

  • Why did you choose to show a picture of the 4th Congressional District? You do realize that the district was redrawn in the 90's by Republicans to give a voice to Latino voters in Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Pilsen and Little Village. You realize this was done to provide “fairness to the voting rights of racial and language minorities,” as mandated by Section 2 of the Federal Voting Rights Act. You label it as gerrymandered and then give no context, no explanation... you don't mention it at all in your writing. Seems a bit dishonest or willfully ignorant to me. There may be gerrymandering going on, but the 4th district is not an example of it.

  • In reply to Lincoln311:

    Dennis is so honest, he's got a three dollar bill he'll happily sell you for $2

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