Civilized debate at a neutral site like the statehouse? Nope. MAGA would rather take this outside. These are not the folks we want drawing our legislative maps.
Civilized debate at a neutral site like the statehouse? Nope. MAGA would rather take this outside. These are not the folks we want drawing our legislative maps. Credit: Tucker Good / Unsplash

For the last several days, I’ve been reading appeals from various do-gooders calling on Governor Pritzker to join their Fair Map crusade and allow Republicans an equal hand in drawing legislative and congressional maps.

As opposed to letting Democrats do the drawing—as is now pretty much the case.

Those do-gooders include the Better Government Association and the editorial boards of Crain’s and the Chicago Tribune.

For another point of view, I thought I’d turn to my old friend Terry Cosgrove, president of Personal PAC, the pro-choice advocacy group.

Terry, I asked, what’s your view on giving Republicans an equal say in drawing state legislative and congressional districts?

To which, Terry responded . . .

“Are you crazy?”

And . . .

“You want to hand the state over to right-wing Republicans?”

And . . .

“These are the people who want to end legal abortions, and equal marriage, and collective bargaining rights, and any kind of environmental or racial justice.”

And . . .

“These are not just right-wing conservatives. They’re anti-democratic, vote-stealing insurrectionists who want to overthrow the government. And you want to give them a hand in running the government?”

Anything else, Terry?

“Yes. That’s not just crazy—that’s freaking crazy.”

That pretty much sums up how I feel about giving mapmaking authority to Republicans.

Keep in mind, Terry and I have our differences. For better or worse, I’m basically a Democrat. Haven’t voted for a Republican since 1980. Bernard Carey was his name—look him up, youngsters.

In contrast, Terry is a single-issue advocate—a woman’s right to choose. As such, he’s far more pragmatic than I am. And he can happily recite a list of Republican legislators that he’s enthusiastically endorsed down through the years. Take it away, Terry . . .

“Rosemary Mulligan, Beth Coulson, Tom Cross, Pat Lindner, Virginia Frederick, Ann Hughes. Wait, there’s more . . .”

As you can see, when it comes to state politics, Terry’s a little like me on TIFs—once he gets started, it’s hard for him to stop.

“Don’t forget to add Mark Beaubien to the sane Republican list. You have to add Mark Beaubien.”

Also, just add Terry Cosgrove to the never-ending list of people who love telling me what to do.

But on this point, Terry is absolutely correct. And his message is too important for Democrats or Independents to ignore. 

This is not the Republican Party of Gerald Ford and Chuck Percy. It’s a party that has sold its soul to a bunch of crackpots who are insanely loyal to Donald Trump.

And if I had to choose between this band of Trump-loving looney tunes or a heavy-handed Democratic ward boss when it comes to legislative map-drawing? Give me the boss—smoked-filled back rooms and all.

To illustrate my point, consider the recent legislative debate over a resolution, introduced by Democrats, to reprimand Republican state representative Chris Miller.

Chris Miller is the husband half of a politically powerful MAGA couple from central Illinois. His wife, Mary Miller, is the recently elected congresswoman who at a right-wing rally in Washington proclaimed: “Hitler was right.”

After several days of outrage, Mary Miller finally delivered one of those classic Republican non-apology apologies that are almost as bad as the original statements.

It boiled down to—OK, maybe I shouldn’t say Hitler was right. But you gotta admit the guy had a point.

The Millers’ central view is that life is a battle between good and evil, and they are good, and people like me and Terry Cosgrove are evil.

Or as Chris Miller put it in a Facebook message he delivered from the January 6 Trump rally—yes, he was at the infamous rally . . .

“We’re engaged in a great cultural war to see which worldview will survive. Whether we will remain a free people under free-market capitalism or whether they will put us in the tyranny of socialism, communism, and the dangerous Democrat terrorists that are trying to destroy our country.”

And to win that “great cultural war,” you must, as Mary Miller put it in her speech, “Fill your children’s minds with what is true, and right, and noble.”

Even if it is false. Like, to pick something the Millers apparently believe, Donald Trump actually won an election he lost.

Anyway, the Democratic resolution to reprimand Miller passed on a party-line vote. Not one Republican voted for it.

Some Republicans got defiant, especially state representative Deanne Mazzochi of Elmhurst, who declared: “You uttered a lot of the words you did today precisely because you know that Chris Miller has enough grace that he is not going to retaliate against you. He’s not going to try to do you harm, which, of course, undermines the whole theory of the motion . . .

“How many of you have the courage to go say what you said today to Chris Miller, in his home on his farm? Where maybe the consequences of your words would actually have consequences.”

Not really sure how to respond to that. Clearly, it sounds like a threat. Or a Rambo fantasy. I mean, who’s going to show up to Miller’s farm? That’s the whole point of having a civilized debate at a neutral site—like the statehouse.

Point is—Chris, Mary, and Deanne are the people that Crain’s, the Trib, and the BGA want to draw the map.

Hold on, Terry just called me back . . .

“If these people are really for instituting Fair Maps, let them go to Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and every other red state and leave Illinois.”

Got it . . .

“And Missouri. Make sure you put Missouri on the list.”

Since you mentioned it . . .

In 2018, Missouri voters passed a referendum that placed remapping in the hands of a nonpartisan demographer. Thus taking it out of the hands of the state’s Republican legislators and governor.

And how did Missouri Republicans respond? They pushed for another state referendum to essentially put political power back in their hands. It squeaked by in November, thanks to a large MAGA turnout.

So much for fairness.  v