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Op-Ed: Nine Proposed “Fair Maps”

This article contains opinions and/or editorial content.

Editor’s Note:  I am categorizing this article as an Op-Ed because I simply can’t think of a way to report this information without bias–Which is ironic, since the purpose of these maps is to remove bias from our electoral districts.

Nine Maps for Mortal Men

(reference)1Sorry, I couldn’t resist.  It’s a twist on a line from a poem from The Lord of the Rings:

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them,
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

The People’s Maps Commission has released three draft maps for each of three voting districts.  These maps seek to create “fair maps”–ones which rely on population, reasonable boundaries, and compactness rather than how they will affect future elections.

Three by Three

When we talk about “election districts” in Wisconsin, we are talking about 3 separate things:  State Assembly districts, State Senate districts, and Federal Congressional districts.  The first two determine how we elect people to represent us in the state government.  The last one determines how we elect House Representatives to represent us in Washington, DC.

The People’s Maps Commission, created by Governor Evers in 2020, has been tasked with creating non-partisan maps to represent Wisconsin at both the state and national levels. Non-partisan means “not intentionally favoring one party or the other”.

Every 10 years, after the US census, state and federal districts need to be redrawn to reflect the new population numbers.  Almost every state in the union currently has maps that are gerrymandered–that means they are drawn not to represent the people, but to keep the ones drawing the maps in power.  And it’s the ones in power that get to draw the maps.

The People’s Maps Commission, after listening to people in every district across the state, has created three draft maps each for the Assembly, Senate, and Congressional elections.  They’re shown below–along with our current map–and include links to the actual maps so you can look into the details behind them.

Why Fair Maps?

I attended Lodi schools during the era of Jack Reinwand.  He was our gym teacher, wrestling coach, inspiration, and–I would say–moral center.  I was never a wrestler (I’d have snapped like a twig), nor in any sports (I was the proverbial 90-lb weakling and art nerd).  But that didn’t matter to Coach Reinwand.

While he taught his teams to win–and they certainly did that–he also taught them that a win has no value if it’s not fairly won.  He insisted that everyone gets to play, everyone is a part of the team, and nobody gets left behind.

You don’t stack the deck, you don’t kneecap the opposition… you don’t cheat.

Sports: Meet the Real World

In 2011, the Wisconsin Republican Party stacked the deck, kneecapped the opposition, and–yes–cheated.  They’re trying to do it again–with backroom deals, law suits, and political tactics.  They don’t want fair teams.  They want to win–even if they have to cheat.

Wisconsin is a “purple state”. At the federal level, it’s a “swing state”.  That means we’re pretty much 50/50 when it comes to liberal/conservative.  We also have a whole lot of moderates who may lean one way or the other, but are willing to listen to both sides and make an educated decision.

We don’t need to stack the deck.  We don’t need to kneecap the opposition.  We don’t need to cheat.

Grantland Rice Was Right

It’s often attributed to Vince Lombardi (he said something quite the opposite), but Grantland Rice said “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game”.

I’m a moderate–not because I can’t make up my mind, but because I agree with things from both the left and the right, and I disagree with things from both the left and the right.  Sometimes all at the same time (politics can be confusing).

We can not truly express the “voice of Wisconsin” if everyone doesn’t share in that voice.  That 90-lb art geek may suck as a linebacker, but he might be a state-level wide receiver.  That skinny band-geek may not be able to spike a volleyball, but she might be a skip that could take us to the nationals.  That… nah… nobody beats Coach at badminton.

Your Home, Your Voice

I don’t give a rat’s ass where you fall on the political spectrum.  I’ll argue with you at the end of the bar, but I’ll still buy you a round.  We aren’t arguing to win, we’re arguing to learn about each other, and to find the best way to achieve what we all want:  Happy, healthy, safe, and financially-secure Badgers.

We get there by sitting at the end of the bar–as equals–and hammering it out over beers and brandy.  We get there by remembering that we live next door to each other.  We get there by leveling the playing field, taking the hits, listening to the team, and being good sportsman.

We do not cheat.

Play Fair

These are the teams as they stand, with the proposed maps below.  You can comment on the proposed maps until 11:59 pm on October 7th here.  Click on a proposed map to access all the data that has been made available.

US Congress

Proposed

Left, Center, Right

State Senate

Proposed

Left, Center, Right

State Assembly

Proposed

Left, Center, Right

Footnotes

Footnotes
1 Sorry, I couldn’t resist.  It’s a twist on a line from a poem from The Lord of the Rings:

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them,
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

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