by, 28 May 2011 at 1:56 PM (38247 Views)
How's redistricting going in your state? Check out this gerrymandering, here in Illinois: http://www.ilhousedems.com/redistricting/?page_id=542
It's almost like they thought the posterchild for gerrymandering (Illinois' 4th Congressional district) was so great, they decided to not only keep it intact, but also replicate it in the suburbs. Check out the new 6th congressional district, which snakes from Lake Zurich down to Westmont (two completely different areas that have almost nothing in common), to create a new suburban democratic district in the Elgin/Schaumburg/Addison area. Under the new plan, west suburban Kane County, which only has 500,000 people, will include portions of 4 congressional districts, whereas currently, it only falls into one. For an example of how crazy these maps are drawn, if you're driving on U.S. 20 west out of Elgin, you will now be able to drive through three different congressional districts within 5 minutes.
Another suburban democratic district was created, covering inner-city Aurora and Joliet, that is only a mile wide as it snakes down to Joliet, so it avoids heavily Republican areas like Plainfield and Homer Glen.
Meanwhile, two Republicans were drawn into the same district (longtime representative Don Manzullo who was once in a very safe R district and newcomer Bobby Schilling who won a very competive district), a district drawn as a safe democratic district that includes inner-city Rock Island, Peoria, and Rockford, all heavily democratic areas, along with blue collar union towns like Sterling-Rock Falls, Freeport, and Galesburg.
Another downstate district was gerrymandered to benefit the Dems, covering inner-city Decatur, Springfield, Champaign, and Bloomington, but yet seeming to avoid Republican parts of those metros. Another crazy district was created that will extend from the WI stateline at Rockton to the IN state line near Watseka.
The way they drew it, I predict only 5 safe Republican districts, with the rest either safe Democratic or leaning Democratic. Currently, there are 11 Republican congressmen and 8 Democratic congressmen representing our state and, if you look back in time, it's actually been pretty even-keel.
I know a lot of people think Illinois is a blue state and should have more Democrats, but it is not. Chicago proper and the southern suburbs are heavily Democratic, East St. Louis is heavily Democratic, but pretty much everywhere else is either Republican or moderate. During the last election, the Republican candidate for governor won 99 of 102 counties, and only lost the race by a couple thousand votes. The state is more moderate/swing than you would think, and I think our congressional maps should be drawn as such, putting emphasis on geography and not on politics. That way, a mini-region like Rockford or Peoria will have one representative that represents that entire region, rather than split between two that could potentially come from two completely different corners of the state.
To me, districts should be drawn with geography in mind, not with politics in mind. Give a district to a common area (Rockford area, Peoria area, far northwest suburbs, near northwest suburbs, far west suburbs, near west suburbs, north side of Chicago, south side of Chicago), and let whatever happen, happen. I believe if districts were drawn this way, more moderate candidates would emerge that best represent the people in those areas. With the proposed map, many suburban communities and small downstate cities are divided into two or three different districts, where your neighbors could potentially be in a different district than you are. It makes absolutely no sense.