As long as there is a fox in the henhouse, there is virtually no chance for the chicken population to grow.

That’s sort of how Indiana Democrats feel about their chances to gain more seats in the state Legislature.

Most assuredly, Indiana Republicans will continue controlling the Legislature in 2021 when it will redraw House and Senate districts based on the 2020 Census.

The results likely will mean Republican majorities in both chambers will grow — or at least stay the same.

That’s all because of gerrymandering, which is the term for the manipulation of districts based on politics to ensure one party maintains control.

Lake County Democrats felt the heavy hand of gerrymandering following the 2010 Census. The Republican artistry led to the election of Hal Slager, Bill Fine and Julie Olthoff in the ensuing years. Democrat Mara Reardon has since won back the seat she lost to Fine. Undoubtedly, the GOP will tweak the districts in 2021 to allow Fine or another Republican the chance to oust Reardon.

That’s the nature of the beast, and sometimes it gets quite personal.

Every so often, there is a hue and cry to take politics out of redistricting and hand it over to a bipartisan commission. But Indiana Republicans always have pooh-poohed such compassion. They did so earlier this year.

For the party in charge, gerrymandering is a wonderful thing. For the electorate, it stinks.

If nothing else, gerrymandering discourages voter turnout. For instance, in Indiana last year, one-third of the state representatives elected didn’t face a major party opponent.

Clearly, there is little incentive for someone to seek a state representative seat if there is no chance of winning. And those who run on a wing and a prayer have little hope of raising the money needed to wage a campaign.

I guess you could say it is one of those “to the victor goes the spoils” things.

If you’re sitting in the catbird’s seat the year after the census, you’ll be sitting pretty for the next decade.

It’s not really conscionable that our politicians will embrace fairness and eliminate gerrymandering. Generally, they simply deny it exists.

How do you get someone to stop doing what they say they don’t do?

As President Donald Trump has found out, we have a court system to keep people like him in check.

People across this country will be watching next year to see what the U.S. Supreme Court does with a Wisconsin case.

Folks are watching to see if the court upholds a lower court decision that struck down the Wisconsin Assembly’s district maps as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.

I suspect Indiana Democrats will be watching with a keen interest. So, too, will foxes in henhouses all across this country.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjamescolumns@gmail.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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