I'm applying to be on the redistricting commission for California because I promoted Prop 11 with vigor and I want it done right. So I decided I ought to do more than talk.
Now, considering the final tally of commissioners can be counted on our respective fingers and toes and over 20,000 people have applied, I'm not likely to get the position. So really, applying is just a symbolic act.
But I'm posting here my rough drafts for the secondary applications. The first question:
Please describe why you are interested in serving on the Citizens Redistricting Commission.
I've long felt that our gerrymandered districts are largely to blame for the political problems faced by California. The lines as presently constituted ignore the natural boundaries formed by neighborhoods, cities, geography, industry, etc.
I remember when I was young, on the front page of the Bakersfield Californian, talk of splitting California into two states. I don't remember if the article was appalled by the same thing I was, but I was horrified by the notion that Kern County would be shunted into "Southern California." We weren't Southern California! We're Central! And I imagine that people in Eureka are amused by the notion that San Francisco, the north-south midpoint, by actual miles, might somehow be as "Northern California" as they.
Asking about where the split between North and South is has since become a habit of mine. I'm always curious where the lines should be drawn. Where does the Central Coast fit in? Culturally, much of it is more like LA than it's like the San Joaquin, but don't even think about calling Big Sur SoCal.
I make it sound like California is broken into factions. But that's not it at all. There are gradations of alliances. And one great thing about not having an actual political line dividing the state in halves (or into thirds) is that we can balance those gradations. Now that I live in the Bay Area, I'm more comfortable with my so-called Southern California heritage. I'm more defined by the geography of my childhood than some label placed on it.
Because our placement in the state matters. It matters less how we register to vote. The Republicans and Democrats of my Tehachapi hometown share certain needs and values and priorities. By grouping that community together politically, their representatives find a common ground based in real needs.
The current gerrymandered groupings lead representatives to find a common ground based on ethereal ideology.
We need representation grounded in the real world.
And so we need redistricting grounded in the real world.