Legislative tyranny in Illinois

Illinois signBy John Ruberry

In case you were hiding in a hole for the last week, you undoubtedly heard that there was a wave election on Tuesday–and the Republican Party was on top of that wave, even in Illinois, President Obama’s home state.

Political newcomer Bruce Rauner ousted Democratic governor Pat Quinn by a surprisingly comfortable five percentage points. He won every county in the state except Cook, where Chicago is–101 of 102 counties.

Surely that wave worked its way down to the Land of Lincoln’s legislature, the General Assembly, right?

It did not.

In 2011 the Democrats, led by House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, created a monstrosity of a gerrymandered remap that shamed all but the most hyper-partisan Dems. It paved the way for the Democrats to enjoy veto-proof majorities in both chambers after the 2012 election.

Two years later the Democrats still have veto-proof majorities thanks to that redistricting assault on the people of Illinois. In the House, the Democrats did not lose a single seat.

On of the effects of the Madigan-Cullerton remap was that 70 of the 118 House races were uncontested–nearly 60 percent of them.Rauner sign

In the state Senate, 19 of the 59 seats were up for election this year, and only seven of them were contested. The Republicans managed to oust one Democratic incumbent.

Possible cures for the exercise in disgraceful democracy were proposed this year, which Rauner enthusiastically supported: term-limit and fair-map amendments. While both proposals enjoyed widespread support and gained far more than the required number of signatures to be put before Illinois voters this fall, a state appellate court ruled that both amendments were constitutional overreaches. Of course the General Assembly could also propose these amendments, but that is as likely as an outbreak of skinny-dipping in the Arctic Ocean in January.

While Illinois voters clearly signaled on Tuesday that they want change, the General Assembly may not feel compelled to listen.

I’ll leave the last words for a Democrat.

“We choose our constituents, not the other way around,” state Representative Jack D. Franks (D-Woodstock) said four years ago, “I don’t think it’s good for democracy.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.