Horrible blow to democracy

We all tend to think we live in a republic built around democratic principles, with a government, as Abraham Lincoln said, “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

We hate to say this, but to some degree, we kid ourselves. It is not hyperbolic to warn against the erosion of our freedoms.

One significant example is gerrymandering, the practice of dominant political parties drawing congressional and legislative maps in such a way as to ensure the elections of their party’s candidates.

Ironically, as our technology grows increasingly more sophisticated, it provides the capability to draw these maps more fairly.

Unfortunately, the parties just take advantage of that increased sophistication to draw maps even more to their liking.

This is no small thing. It turns the concept of one-person-one-vote into a fallacy. It enables dominant parties to increase their dominance and enables elected politicians to ensure their reelections.

In Illinois, Democrats do this and are pretty blatant about it. But it’s not like this is endemic to one party. In some other states — Texas, for example — Republicans do.

In Illinois, and throughout the country, organized citizens initiatives have worked to change this without a lot of success. But until last week, there was reason for optimism. Good government activists looked to the Supreme Court to protect the electorate.

Then June 27, the court handed down a horrible blow to democracy. In a 5-4 vote, the court ruled that even though it recognized that district boundaries were being drawn through partisan gerrymandering, it is up to the voters, not the courts, to address that.

Such an appalling abdication of the court’s responsibilities.

That argument misses the point that in manipulating the process, the gerrymandering essentially takes the power to make decisions out of the hands of the electorate.

This is not a conservative or liberal issue. It is a liberty issue. Through gerrymandering, the political parties gain power, the voters lose power.

* This guest editorial is from the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald in Illinois.