It's not even worth getting into whether or not this particular solution to the problem is the best possible solution to the problem. It's a solution to the problem.
I don't want to go into my feelings on the subject just now, but one of my favorite columnists once wrote a bit on this when similar measures were up for vote a few years ago. I'm going to feel free to steal that column and just post it here:
- All in favor of democracy say 'aye'
I go to the polls every time the chance arises, but I didn't vote last time in the House race. Why? Because when there is only one person on the ballot, I leave it blank in protest.
Representational democracy does not mean that I get to choose between Bill Thomas and nobody. Representational democracy means I get to choose between Bill Thomas and somebody. And that somebody has to have a snowball's chance of winning.
In the November 2004 election, Bill Thomas (our representative in the House) ran unopposed; Roy Ashburn (our state senator) ran unopposed when he was last up in 2002.
Thomas recently told Bakersfield College's student paper, "I believe incumbents ought to have opponents so people can make choices between candidates. That's what elections are supposed to be about."
Right. Like our assemblyman, Kevin McCarthy, who was reelected with 78.7 percent of the vote last November.
He's one of 16 assemblymembers to be sent to Sacramento with at least 50 percent more of the vote than their nearest opponent. And 66 of the 80 assembly seats were won by at least a 20 percent margin — not including the guy who ran unopposed.
Frankly, it's a racket, a scam, a hoax being pulled on us voters.
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe said it just right: "The deepest and unhealthiest divide in American politics is not the one that separates Republicans from Democrats or conservatives from liberals. It is the gulf between Insiders and Outsiders — between the incumbents who treat public office as private property and the increasingly neutered electorate in whose name they claim to act. ... many legislators regard their positions as lifetime entitlements that voters must not be allowed to tamper with."
Well, it's time to tamper.
I've talked to both Ashburn and McCarthy about nonlegislative redistricting and both say it's a fine idea: Rah, rah, electorate! and so forth.
But which redistricting plan is best?
The plan endorsed by the governor is dismissed by Ashburn. He calls it's primary advocate, Ted Costa, a gadfly and says that picking judges to redistrict won't be an improvement because judges are every
bit as partisan as the legislature.
His preferred plan has judges submit the names of citizens, and from that pool, elected politicians would choose the redistricters.
Let me say that again. We don't want legislators to choose the redistricting panel because, in Ashburn's words, "political people will always act in their own self-interest."
We don't want judges to do it either because they're just as bad.
So we'll have those bad judges pick people to be decided on by the politicos we're trying to oust from the process in the first place.
Ashburn has other problems with Costa's plan that I might agree with, but here's one element I do like:
Schwarzenegger wrote a letter to the Committee for an Independent Voice that said, "Among the five special counsels (the people on the proposed redistricting panel), no more than two can be from one
political party. This measure guarantees that at least one of the special counsels is not registered with either of the two major parties."
Now that I like. After all, both major parties are ridiculous posturers that primarily exist to self-perpetuate.
I must not be alone in this opinion. According to CIV, "91 percent of the growth in the California electorate in the last ten years has been voters registering outside the two major parties."
Why? Because Republicans are about Republicans and Democrats are about Democrats and they're both about power and maintaining it, even if that means scratching each other's backs.
Currently, in addition to the gadfly's plan, there are seven other redistricting plans hanging outside supermarkets for the 598,105 signatures they need to get on the ballot.
I'm sure if we look close, we'll find that each has its weaknesses — most employ corrupt, partisan judges, for instance — but let me promise you this: I'll vote yea on every redistricting measure that
ends up on my ballot.
Anything's better than the system we've got now.
Representational democracy, for instance.
Copyrighted © 2005 Tehachapi News All Rights Reserved
And when we're done with this, we can get on the Electoral College fix.