The state's partisan redistricting process needs to change.
In April, state Rep. Mandy Wright, D-Wausau, introduced a bill that would take the job of drawing legislative districts out of the hands of legislators and give it to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. The proposal, which is modeled on a system in use in Iowa, would improve Wisconsin's politics, putting an end to the deplorable spectacle of politicians choosing their voters when it's supposed to be the other way around.
There are a lot of politicians who would like to see the proposal go nowhere. And that's exactly what will happen, unless we demand otherwise.
Today, Stevens Point Journal Media is participating in a statewide push to keep these proposals from being killed off by politicians who would rather maximize their own political gains than listen to the will of the public. Along with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, Madison's WISC-TV, the Beloit Daily News, the La Crosse Tribune and others, we at Gannett Central Wisconsin Media are calling on Wisconsin legislators to schedule hearings in the fall session on Assembly Bill 185 and its Senate counterpart, Senate Bill 163.
The public at least deserves a chance to learn more about these proposals.
Blatantly partisan redistricting is an embarrassment if you care about democracy. It also has real and negative effects. Politicians in "safe" districts, liberal or conservative, are driven to take extreme positions that appeal to their base rather than to the less ideologically driven median voter.
Here's the principle: We are better when we're open to arguments we do not agree with. We are better when we compromise and find common ground. Our political system should reflect that. But Wisconsin's system of redistricting fosters the opposite values: closed-mindedness, wagon-circling and above all, partisanship.
We're better than that. But it will take outside pressure to get things to change. Our politicians have proven that they're not going to do it on their own.
Call your state legislators. Email them. Show up at their offices. Ask them to support a change to the broken status quo.