I rarely offer encouraging news for those who believe in the principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility and individual freedom. Nevertheless, readers frequently implore me to offer some good news.
So, here it is. After looking at the current redistricting process, and the new maps offered by a supposedly nonpartisan and fair-minded commission that is doing the bidding for left-wing and ethnic-interest groups, I do have some happy news: The new maps — which almost certainly will ensure a two-thirds legislative voting majority for Democrats — are likely to be challenged and won’t go into effect until at least 2012 either way.
That leaves taxpaying Californians with enough time to sell their assets in our lovely but mismanaged state and find a nice home somewhere east of the Sierra Nevada. Satire aside, the redistricting debacle spotlights the deep tentacles of the political left, the impotence of the Republican Party and the outlandish double-standards at work in the high-stakes game of Sacramento politics.
As former California Republican Party Chairman Shawn Steel put it: “The Democrats knew what they were doing and Republicans were asleep at the switch.” He said the commission, comprised of Republicans and Democrats (and members of third parties), features ineffective and liberal Republican members and hyper-partisan Democrats, with the results strongly tilting the new seats in one direction.
Furthermore, Steel notes that the California Citizens Redistricting Commission was designed, in its initiative language, to create new ethnic-oriented gerrymanders beyond what is required by the federal Voting Rights Act.
The one commissioner who voted no on the new maps complained publicly about that.
“In my opinion, the commission failed to fulfill its mandate to strictly apply constitutional criteria and consistently applied race and ‘community of interest’ criteria and sought to diminish dissenting viewpoints,” Michael Ward of Fullerton said.
Legislators have traditionally picked their own boundaries, drawing lines that ensure their own
re-election. Elected officials want to expend as little effort as possible to stay in office, so California is filled with districts that are overwhelmingly Democratic or overwhelmingly Republican. It’s rare for seats to switch party hands.
In 2008, California voters approved Proposition 11, which created the California Citizens Redistricting Commission to create new lines following the 2010 census. The commission was charged with developing districts for the state Assembly, Senate and the Board of Equalization. Voters then approved Prop. 20, which gave the commission the authority to come up with district lines for Congress.
Even though both major parties had the opportunity to vet the new commissioners, a series by CalWatchdog reporter John Hrabe revealed that Commissioner Gabino Aguirre failed “to disclose his association with a redistricting special interest group. The Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, a politically active community-based organization, has submitted its own redistricting proposals to the commission and mobilized its staff members and volunteers to testify before the commission.”
In response to the series, California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro demanded that Aguirre resign or be removed. Del Beccaro told me that he received no response to his concerns.
But what explains Republicans who didn’t properly vet these obviously politically active commission members?
This also reminds us that no attempted good-government gimmick will fix what ails California. If Californians want to save their state, they need to directly take on the interests that are ruining it.
Otherwise, my good news about having time to find real estate in Nevada may be less than satiric.
Steven Greenhut is editor of www.calwatchdog.com; write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.