Letter to the Editor: When Voters Don’t Count, Representative Democracy Falters

There are serious and thoughtful discussions occurring throughout Door County concerning the availability of decent, safe and affordable housing in the county. 

Most discussions are centered on the supply side: How do we induce and enable developers to build such housing? Very few thoughtful discussions appear to be focused on the demand side: How do we make it possible for the hard-working families who can’t afford such housing to get to the point where they can afford it?

Job training, education, child-care subsidies, reduced health-care costs and an increase in the minimum wage can all be part of that solution. What have the state Legislature and the federal government done to help move such proposals forward in a meaningful way? In my opinion, little or nothing. 

Why is that? Why is it that those we elect to represent us and our communities fail to do so? I believe it’s because of two issues related to the vibrancy of our democracy: 1) Citizens United and dark-money donors, and 2) gerrymandering and the distortion of voting-district boundaries to favor one political party over all others.

When the outcome of an election is determined by big-dollar donors and skewed boundaries before voting even starts, there are serious roadblocks to representative government. Our voices are silenced. Our votes don’t count. There are no listening sessions. There are no debates on the floor of the Legislature. Those elements of a representative democracy are not necessary when the voters don’t count.

If we want to solve the housing problems in Door County, and if we want livable wages, affordable day care, common-sense gun laws and proactive climate legislation, we need to end gerrymandering. Go to to learn what steps you can take to help.

Jim Black

Sister Bay, Wisconsin