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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

New map leads to nowhere

By Ray Hanania

Chicago politics is a politics of race and ethnicity. It always has been. It’s one reason why in Illinois, race means more than good ideas.

Every 10 years, based on a flawed U.S. Census that excludes some races while exaggerating others, states redraw congressional district boundaries.

Illinois will lose one seat, reducing our voice in the U.S. Congress to 17. That loss is based on population deterioration, or flight from the corruption, scandal and worse, crime that defines Illinois.

RayHanania

Ray Hanania

The Democrats control the state so strongly that Republican voices are basically entertainment, like that of Adam Kinzinger, the do-nothing congressman. His only notoriety is based on the fact that he backstabbed his own party leader, former President Donald Trump.

Kinzinger’s ego needed attention to deflect public attention away from the fact that he has never done anything good since he was first elected in 2010.

The headline-grabbing Kinzinger floated a rumor he was going to run for governor. Some Democrats drafted a map to eliminate his district and force him to run.

Under the first draft map, Kinzinger was put in a district with Congresswoman Marie Newman, a Democrat progressive centrist. Newman was a cinch to win re-election.

Maybe the mapmakers were sending Governor JB Pritzker a message. Pritzker doesn’t always play nice with the state’s Democratic leadership. Pritzker has so much money, he makes mediocrity look productive.

The redraft released this week proves there was never an intent to undermine Newman, who has managed to maintain a strong Democratic Party foundation while expanding her agenda to include challenging Israel’s apartheid violence against Palestinians.

Newman’s district has the largest concentration of Palestinian American voters in the country. No one has ever taken that seriously, not even Palestinian activists who are as dysfunctional as they are myopic to politics.

The good news about the new district is it ends the slicing of some strong suburban communities, like Orland Park. The largest municipality between Chicago and Joliet, Orland Park was divided between Newman’s district and do-nothing Congressman Bobby Rush’s district.

Now Orland Park will be in one district with Newman, who cares more about the region than Rush ever did.

The Democratic Party has steadily consolidated its power, grabbing voter areas like properties in an aggressive Monopoly game strategy. Chicago used to have a Republican presence, but that diversity vanished long ago.

The Illinois legislature once had three House members in each Senate District. The rule was that no party could control all three seats, ensuring a minority party representation. Former governor and glad-hander Pat Quinn built his career pushing the elimination of that political balance.

The six-county region used to be a Republican bastion, but that is quickly eroding, too. Illinois once had a strong GOP presence in Congress. The new map defines 14 Democratic and only three Republican districts.

It’s the same with Cook County, where moderate Republican voices have vanished.

This column isn’t about defending the Republican Party. I am a conservative Democrat, or a Reagan Democrat.

But so many Republicans in Congress, the state legislature, county and local offices are so far to the right, they are nuts. There are very few moderate Republicans, or centrists, left in Illinois. I blame the marginalization of smart Republican leaders by Republicans for their ignominious fate, and less the Democratic Party power grab.

A lot of Republicans have good ideas, but they are blurred by other far right fanatics. Some Republican leaders — including in local suburban municipal office — are raging lunatics who can’t work with anyone except with their own egos. They overshadow the few who are bright and smart.

One-party rule is a disaster. There is no public debate. The issues don’t get examined openly or fully. Decisions are made in secret, without the public even knowing what’s happening. Voters are denied real choices. It produces raging lunatics who win suburban office.

One-party rule is unhealthy. That’s why Chicago and Cook County are the crime capitals of the nation. There is not enough diversity to challenge the failed leadership of Mayor Lori Lightfoot or Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. Without counter voices, the public loses big time.

Voters should set aside blind party voting and instead judge their leaders based on talent and creative ideas. There are a lot of good leaders. A Democrat who does nothing about Chicago crime is worse than a right-wing Republican fanatic who screams insanity.

Don’t celebrate the new map. It’s a symptom of a political cancer where special interests and “minority” (quantitative not qualitative) interests advance their concerns above the concerns and needs of the public, and a mainstream news media that has been co-opted by one political agenda.

Check out more of Ray Hanania’s work at hanania.com.

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