Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Political parties, like NFL teams, shouldn’t be writing the rules (a case for redistricting reform)

Redistricting reform, similar to the Iowa model, is needed in Wisconsin

When the Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50 last year, they were awarded no major privileges in deciding how games in the NFL would be played the following season. They didn’t get to make any scheduling or rule changes simply because they were the victors.

And nor should they have been given these privileges. Giving a successful franchise like the Super Bowl Champion-Denver Broncos the opportunity to change the scheduling or the rules would allow them the chance to bend them in a way that could favor their team in the next year. Though that’d make for compelling television, it wouldn’t be fair to 31 other NFL teams (OK, maybe it’d be karmic-payback to the Patriots, but I digress).

Rightfully, the NFL requires all rule changes to go through a Competition Committee who analyzes suggestions from all teams, decides upon the best ideas and submits them for all 32 clubs to decide whether they merit incorporating or not.

This method, in relation to politics, reminds me of the Iowa method of redistricting reform – which Wisconsin and other states should incorporate immediately.

Here’s how it works: the Legislative Services Agency in Iowa (a nonpartisan body similar to Wisconsin’s Legislative Reference Bureau), working alongside a five-member commission selected by the majority and minority leaders of both of Iowa’s legislative houses, draws up the maps every ten years without consideration of “previous election results, voter registration, or even the addresses of incumbent members of Congress,” according to the Boston Globe. Politicians can’t be part of the process – they’re not allowed to make suggestions of any kind to this commission, and members of the commission can’t even be related to political leaders in elected offices or political parties.

After the maps are drawn, they’re submitted to the state legislature, who make an up-or-down vote on the maps. If they approve, and the governor signs the bill into law, the maps go into play; if they’re not approved, the commission goes back to square one (though the legislature has never voted against a map since this process started in 1980).

This idea makes a lot of sense, and it takes the process away from the “winning team.” Partisans who are fresh off of a statewide electoral victory cannot strengthen their districts under this plan. Neither Republicans nor Democrats will be in charge of the redrawing of maps – and that’s the way it should be.

The Editorial Board of the Green Bay Press Gazette recently endorsed the idea of nonpartisan map drawing. Their closing paragraph laid out the perfect reasoning behind why we should all demand it be in place by 2020:
Creating districts that result in noncompetitive races diminishes the importance of a citizen’s vote, limiting the opportunity of a vibrant democracy. Our elected officials in the Legislature should not be choosing their voters; the voters ought to be choosing their representatives.
Sports leagues recognize the unfair advantage of allowing teams to set their own rules following a winning season. It’s why they have committees come up with rule changes instead. Similarly it isn’t fair (or democratic) to let the “winning team” dictate the rules of the next election. Political parties shouldn’t make those decisions – the people of Wisconsin should.

1 comment:

  1. Nice article. Thanks for sharing useful information. For more discussion on American Politics WeLeadUSA has perfect platform for you.