but gerrymandering in Wisconsin lives on.
Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District … home to former Speaker Paul Ryan.
How is Wisconsin gerrymandered?
You won’t look at Wisconsin’s districts and see weird shapes. State legislators have used a more sophisticated, subtle form of gerrymandering — but the intentional manipulation is undeniably there. That’s why even though Democrats won 54 percent of the state’s congressional votes in November 2018, they won only 38 percent of the Congressional seats.
What does Paul Ryan have to do with this?
Former Speaker Ryan won election 10 times in WI-1 — and in most of those re-elections, he was never seriously challenged. It’s not like he had broad, popular positions for a swing state like Wisconsin, either. He ran on cutting Medicare and helping rich corporations pay fewer taxes. But here’s the truth: Thanks to gerrymandering, Paul Ryan knew his seat was never in doubt.
Ryan benefited significantly from running in a rigged district — one that got even more rigged in 2011, when Wisconsin Republicans took complete control of the redistricting process and Ryan’s friend, Gov. Scott Walker, signed the new districts into law. Over the years, they shifted WI-1 north into Republican strongholds, removed Democratic-leaning areas … and made sure he’d never have to worry about losing re-election again.
Let’s take it a step further …
It’s pretty simple what happens next. When representatives know they’ll win re-election, they stop listening to voters. They don’t see a need to defend their actions or be held accountable. And they get pushed, gradually, towards the extreme. Paul Ryan? He voted with President Trump 95.5% of the time — and knew he wouldn’t have to answer for it.
“[It’s] geography as destiny”
— Janesville (WI) Gazette, July 2018