The Republican-dominated Legislature is rushing to approve a plan to draw new political boundary lines that will help determine who represents Michigan residents for the next decade. The rush means few people have had a chance to look at the map in any detail much less comment on it.
For something as crucial as the integrity of democractic representation, the process needs to be slowed down. But in the face of Democratic complaints, the Livingston Press and Argus is basically saying, "Sit down and shut up."
Says the editorial, "But the Democrats are barking up the wrong tree when they argue that the maps should tour the state for the summer to get public input before a final vote this fall. It's a nice idea, but other than giving partisans a chance for a forum, it won't change anything. Republicans are going to adopt the maps because they favor Republicans."
For an entity that depends on government transparency in order to do its job, that's an amazing statement. In effect, it's saying, "Why should we care what any government does? We don't have a vote and can't change it so just forget about it."
The editorial assumes there is no public interest at stake here aside from whatever the Republicans or Democrats want. It doesn't have to be that way. Years ago, I knew a newspaper colunmnist in another state who closely examined the redistricting plan put forward by the Republican Party. He demonstrated that it under-represented urban voters and over-represented rural voters. He wrote column after column about the unfairness and then challenged the author of the plan to a series of debates around the state. In the end, the plan was defeated and one that was fairer to a majority of voters in the state -- who lived in cities -- was adopted.
He didn't just throw up his hands and say, "Politics is politics and all you whiners shut up." He actually examined the proposal for fairness to voters and then did something about it. But he's dead now. I hope good journalism as it relates to redistricting hasn't died, too.