On principle, Lurie opposes the idea of an independent commission because he doesn't believe in the possibility of an independent commission.
Where do we find people "free of even a hint of political motivation," as the editorial recommends? It is easy to throw around words like "independent" and "right." But once a person forms an opinion, he or she is no longer independent. If the members of a commission know how to draw district lines, they know who they are helping and hurting and, if they know that, then they are partisan.
Lurie's core assertion is breathtaking: "once a person forms an opinion, he or she is no longer independent." He either misunderstands what it means to be independent, or what it means to have an opinion -- though he may misunderstand both propositions equally. An impossible standard is implicit; to be independent, as Lurie implicitly defines the term, is to be independent of everything -- practically speaking, to stand for nothing. Indeed, as the final sentence of the excerpt suggests, to help or hurt anyone, purposefully or not, is not just not independent, but also actively partisan, whether or not you belong to a political party. Lurie appears to deny the possibility not just of independence, but of objectivity. Any claim to objectivity would fail for him, it seems, if objective policy "hurt" an entrenched interest or "helped" an excluded one, intentionally or not. Lurie himself eliminates any possibility of an ambiguous reading by adding: "no person can be independent in a political process."
Having refuted the myth of independence to his satisfaction, Lurie appeals to democracy.
While no person can be independent in a political process, at least the current process recognizes that the state Legislature is a body duly elected to serve the public's interests. Checks and balances already in place, such as the governor's ability to veto proposed maps, will help ensure that a fair redistricting solution can be reached.
No matter how you define it, government and politics are intertwined. The best way to ensure that the public is represented in redistricting is continuing the process under way now, with the public engaging those elected by the voters -- not an appointed body of non-elected individuals with private agendas.
The "process" may recognize partisan legislators as public servants, but the public increasingly thinks differently. The reason the subject of "independent" redistricting comes up is because citizens increasingly question whether parties really "serve the public's interests." But by his own standard, Lurie can't have it both ways. He tries to draw a distinction between the inherent "public" agenda of political parties and the inevitably "private agendas" of "non-elected individuals." But if no one is or can be independent, what distinguishes a private agenda from a public agenda? All that seems possible is that Lurie sincerely believes that elections render private agendas public, which means practically that only agendas shaped by or into political parties -- and, realistically, only the agendas of the two major parties -- can ever be public, all others being not independent but private. In effect, to assert independence from the the duopolistic legislature is never independent in Lurie's mind, but factional, while the major parties' duopoly over the redistricting process is always in the public interest, and cannot be factional, even when self-evidently self-interested, because they always control the legislature and can claim the mandate of the people. No asserted interest, no matter how widely shared, can become a public interest until it wins an election, and elected representatives can ignore it until then. And you wonder why some people criticize the whole idea of representative government, partisan or not. Its defenders, of course, will just say: go and win an election if you don't like things now....but isn't that where this article started?