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ThoughtsOnline

Friday, November 04, 2005


I've never been to Spain, but I've been to California...

So that's as good a reason as any to chip in my two cents on their Proposition 77, whichich would remove from the legislature the power to set voting districts and hand it off to a supposedly less partisan commission....

Notwithstanding that some pretty smart folks (here andhere) are in favor of it, me thinks otherwise...

First, I see nothing wrong with putting people of a like mind together and letting them pick someone a representative who shares their views. As a voter, I'm happy when my elected representatives share my philosophy and not so happy when they don't. In fact, one of the few problems I have with the way districts are now set up is that the majority party levels are set too low. I would strive for a 65%+ margin in each district; I like grouping like-minded people together, not to allow a bare majority to run over an almost-majority. I would also try to get rid of the geographical gyrations that we now have... I like putting in a district like-minded people living near one another .

Second, Proposition 77 is elitist. It takes away from the people the power to determine for themselves, through their elected representatives, how their voting districts are shaped. It hands off to people who are accountable to no one other than their own sense of right and wrong. Handing off control over how my voting district is shaped to an unaccountable panel makes as much sense as handing off Social Security reform to an unaccountable panel... or tax reform to an unaccountable panel.

Third, I presume that, despite the fussing on the part of a certain few, the electorate as a whole doesn't see a problem with the way things stand... otherwise, they would have elected representatives who pledged to do something about it. And the last time I checked the list of issues that matter most to voters, it was the economy, Iraq/terror, schools..... and on and on and on... until you get to the list of 'other issues', where gerrymandered districts finally makes its appearance.

Like it or not, when something is really important to the country, we get our act together. And, until the people decide something is really, truly important, well, it just ain't that important.

It actually is pretty simple to figure out the reason why this issue has never risen to the top of the pop charts. The majority in each district, whichever party it may be, likes things just the way they are. Why would the Republicans who now control Orange County (correct me if this isn't the case) want to dilute their power by adding in Democrats? Why would the Democrats who now control San Francisco want to see their power diluted by bringing in Republicans from elsewhere? Sure, the Democrats in Orange County and the Republicans in San Francisco (assuming there are some) would like things changed... but they're in the minority... and if you take all of the minorities in all of the California counties, you end up with a minority of all voters.

There are many reasons people choose to live where they do... and one of the big reasons is that they want to be near people like themselves. Conservative suburbanites like being together. So do urban liberals. When I bought a house, I picked a neighborhood where the residents shared my values and 'was just like me' (professionals with kids). I didn't want to live in Dupont Circle (which is in DC). And the people who like living in Dupont Circle sure don't want to be living the suburban lifestyle. We just don't have that much in common, so no representative could make us both happy... so it's great that they get to vote for who they want and I get to vote for who I want. Isn't that the way things ought to be?

Other than that, I am sure it's a great idea....