Direct democracy is stupid. We elect legislators to take care of this stuff for us. Law making is their job. What’s the point in having an Assembly if we’re doing this ourselves? Dumb California hippies.
Anyway, as a Californian I’m stuck with it. Let’s take a look at this year’s Proposition 20: The Voters First Act for Congress.
In 2008, Proposition 11 created the Citizens Redistricting Commission, a panel made up of five Democrats, five Republicans, and four independents. The commission was designated to draw the lines for the state legislature and Board of Equalization.
Prop 20 adds congressional redistricting to the CRC’s portfolio. Let’s look into the text of the proposition. [The text is taken from the California General Election Official Voter Information Guide.]
“Cities, counties, and communities are currently split between bizarrely jagged congressional districts designed to make those districts safe for particular parties and particular incumbents.”
Well, yes! That’s part of the fun of redistricting. How else will get things of beauty like NY-28, a snake that marries Rochester and Buffalo via thin strips of Lake Ontario beachfront beauty?
“The geographical integrity of any city, county, city and county, local neighborhood, or local community of interest shall be respected in a manner that minimizes their division to the extent possible without violating the requirements of any of the preceding subdivisions.”
Why does it matter if all of Barstow is in one district? Are we worried that splitting Mendocino county between two congressional districts will lead to civil war? Will that war be fought with wine bottles?
And what about a “local community of interest”? Prop 20 defines this as “a contiguous population which shares common social and economic interests that should be included within a single district for purposes of its effective and fair representation.”
“Social” interests? So, racial profiling? All the blacks in one district, all the gays in another? Prop 20 is telling me that I can’t be effectively represented by a Latina congresswoman or a gay congressman because I’m a straight white guy. Fuck you, Prop 20, you racist asshole. My congressman is Jewish. Whatcha gonna do about that?
All the power is put in the hands of the 14-member commission. Who’s on this commission? “The membership of the commission will have three groups of members: five Democrats; five Republicans; and four members registered with neither of those parties, who will carry the voices of independent and minor-party voters who are completely shut out of the current process.”
That’s fair. Giving independents 28% of the commission certainly balances everything out. But they can make it work. The independents can join with one of the major parties to create the needed nine member majority, so all is good. But….
“The four final redistricting maps must be approved by at least nine affirmative votes which must include at least three votes of members registered from each of the two largest political parties in California based on registration and three votes from members who are not registered with either of these two political parties.”
Great. Bi-partisanship sure is a common thing in this country. It’ll be easy to get three Democrats to agree with three Republicans and three independents in a country where Senate Democrats couldn’t get one Republican Senator to vote for any of President Obama’s initiatives.
Perhaps that’s just the cynic in me talking. Maybe we can get a little cross-party harmony. Luckily, that’s the only impediment to getting redistricting done. Oh, except for this:
“Any registered voter in this state may file a petition for a writ of mandate or writ of prohibition, within 45 days after the commission has certified a final map to the Secretary of State, to bar the Secretary of State from implementing the plan on the grounds that the filed plan violates this Constitution, the United States Constitution, or any federal or state statute.”
Fantastic! California will never be redistricted again!
All of this was about Prop 20’s attempt to add congressional redistricting to the Citizens Redistricting Commission’s state legislature redistricting duties. I’m not a fan. Congressional redistricting is the state legislature’s job.
But wait! There’s more. Welcome to Prop 27! Prop 27 abolishes the Citizens Redistricting Commission. The one we were just talking about in Prop 20. The one that was created a mere two years ago by Prop 11.
One proposition expands the CRC, the other abolishes it. So, what if these competing propositions both pass? The one that gets the most votes wins.
Here’s my recommendation: vote the same on both. Let’s prove that us Californians have no idea what we want. Let the propositions fight themselves. The winner goes on to meet the winning half of Mendocino County in the finals.