Robin Vos should learn from Peter Barca's big mistake
It's great to be on top in politics.
But times change. Voter sentiments shift. No political party holds power in Wisconsin forever - even with legislative voting districts drawn to favor the majority.
So Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, would be wise to learn from former Majority Caucus Chairman Peter Barca's big mistake.
Barca, D-Kenosha, and his fellow Democrats could have approved the Iowa model for nonpartisan redistricting back in 2009 and 2010, when Democrats ran the Capitol.
They didn't. And now they're paying the price.
Republicans flipped control just in time for the 2010 census results. Then the GOP huddled in secret and gerrymandered Wisconsin's voting district maps to favor Republican candidates in the 2012 elections and beyond.
In other words, the Republicans did precisely what the Democrats had planned on doing had they held power.
The GOP-drawn maps were so rigged that the Republicans held their commanding majority in the Assembly even though Democrats collected more votes statewide in 2012.
Barca's excuse for Democrats not acting on reform when they had the chance was: "We ran out of time." That's laughable, given Democrats had two years to get it done.
Now it's Vos who is getting cute.
Newspapers across the state, including the Wisconsin State Journal editorial board, have repeatedly called for a public hearing on redistricting reform that would mirror the Iowa model. Instead of letting politicians draw the lines to their advantage, Assembly Bill 185 and Senate Bill 163 would assign the once-every-decade task to the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau. The bureau would remap the state at virtually no cost under strict rules requiring compact districts.
Vos' lame excuses today for resisting reform are just as laughable as Barca's old charade. Two wrongs don't make a right, Mr. Speaker. And what goes around eventually comes around - especially in politics.
Rather than playing the same old partisan game, Vos should stand as a statesman and do the right thing for all of Wisconsin. He should allow a public hearing on what so obviously is a better system. Refusing to even have a public discussion is cowardly.
Wisconsin's legislative and congressional districts won't be redrawn again until after the 2020 census. By then, assuming Vos is still in office, Wisconsin politics may have turned. It could be Vos and his party who wind up on the wrong end of the same tricks.
You don't think that could happen, Mr. Speaker? Barca didn't, either. And now he's the minority leader.