Supreme Court Redistricting

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks at a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington Oct. 3. The Supreme Court heard arguments in a case about political maps in Wisconsin that could affect elections across the country. 

MANUEL BALCE CENETA, ASSOCIATED PRESS

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we need to have an honest conversation about our future. As I'm sure you've heard, oral arguments for Gill v. Whitford, the case challenging Wisconsin's gerrymandered maps, have just wrapped up. For many Democrats and our allies, we act as if this case will be a silver bullet for our electoral woes, believing that fairly drawn maps will solve all of our problems. This is dangerously shortsighted.

Let me first say that I do hope the court strikes down Wisconsin's terrible maps. These maps are an affront to our democracy and we desperately need the court to step in to address the disturbing level of partisanship that has infected our redistricting process. However, no matter how this case turns out, the unfortunate truth is that its effects will be minimal at best.

You see, this case hinges on the opinion of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has already stated that partisan redistricting is constitutional. For Kennedy, the only question is how much partisanship is too much and how do we calculate that magic number. This is where the problem lies.

If the court strikes down Wisconsin's maps, it is extremely unlikely that they will provide a hardline rule on how much partisanship is acceptable when redistricting. Wisconsin Republicans will then just make the maps 1 percent less gerrymandered and Wisconsin Democrats will have to file another lawsuit, and around and around we will go. To put it simply, unless the court is prepared to eliminate partisan redistricting, it is not equipped to create the strict standards necessary to avoid endless litigation.

I know this is disappointing to hear, but it's important to face the truth. Too often, those of us on the left focus on issues that we believe will result in a knockout punch when in reality we don't have the strength to deliver the blow.

Instead, what we need to do is focus on doing the hard work that will lay the foundation for our future.

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If you really want to create change, here are some concrete things you can do. If you are able, donate to candidates or causes that are fighting for the things you believe in. The future of campaigns is small-dollar donors, so don't think that your $20 isn't helping. If you have the time, volunteer for a candidate or a cause that you really care about. You can start now by talking to your friends and neighbors about the issues that matter to you. And no matter what, you have to vote.

These may feel like small actions, but every dollar raised, every hour of volunteering, and every vote earned is a brick in the foundation we are building. If you want independent redistricting, if you want campaign finance reform, if you want a government that reflects your values, you have to get good people elected. You do that by doing the hard work. We cannot sit idly by and hope to be saved by some external force. The duty is ours, each and every one of us. Now let's get to work.

Jimmy Anderson, D-Fitchburg, represents the 47th District in the Wisconsin Assembly.

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