Sunday, October 16, 2005
Why values are better than partisanship....
I'm not sure why busting the current incumbent-protection racket would be a bad thing, why creating competitive districts and forcing incumbents to be more responsive to their constituents than the current 70-80 percent partisan districts require.
Chuck Todd, in this week's column (not a permalink), makes a great argument for supporting the proposition.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the person who could be speaker if Democrats take back control, is actively raising money to defeat the California redistricting measure. Of course, in California, if districts were no longer drawn by partisans but by bipartisan panels of some political or judiciary makeup, then Democrats could possibly lose a few seats -- though no one's made a good case to us how they would net a loss. There are some GOP seats they'd likely nab in Southern California that would offset their losses in other parts of the state.
In fact, Pelosi's commitment to defeat the redistricting measure in California is so great that one Democratic operative told us she called its defeat her "top priority." As this operative noted to us, "left unsaid was the fact that winning back the House was not the 'top priority.'"
In Pelosi's defense, if this California redistricting measure took place in a vacuum, we could understand her focus on defeating it. She could easily spin this as an attempt by national Republicans to save their own majority by re-drawing California the same way Rep. Tom DeLay redrew Texas.
But if there was ever an example of "cutting off your nose to spite your face," this is it. As noted above, Ohio has a similar redistricting reform measure on the ballot this November, which if enacted, would likely give Democrats a better chance in a number of districts. Similarly, some Florida Democrats, led by 2004 Senate nominee Betty Castor, are trying to put a redistricting reform measure on that state's ballot next year. Florida is one of the more grotesque examples of gerrymandering in the entire country.
Bottom line, California initiatives are like colds, they're very catchy. If this reform measure passes in California, every other state with an initiative/referendum process would likely follow suit. And there are far more gerrymandered states in favor of the GOP right now than the Democrats. Redrawing the districts in these states would lead to Congress being much more representative of the national mood.
But Pelosi is making sure she (and probably the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) can't support any of these initiatives in these other states without looking like a blatant hypocrite. By fighting the California redistricting reform initiative so vehemently, Pelosi is proving to some that she's running for power, pure and simple. No different than DeLay. We shouldn't be surprised; she was raised in a household that embraced machine politics and that's how she rules the Democratic caucus, like an old-style machine (ironically, it's how DeLay has shaped the House Republicans).
But this style of politics is exactly what has voters potentially up-in-arms. They are searching for reform, and redistricting reform would be a real step in the voters' direction. And it appears it's a gigantic missed opportunity for the Democrats in search of something substantial to be for as they shape their reform message for '06.
Update: Wow, I'm blown away by the rampant misinformation floating around on this issue, particularly the fiction that Arnold would pick the redistricting panel himself. Here's the text of the proposed law (PDF). Read it for yourself before you try and spread misinformation.full post @ from daily kos
Of coarse a case could be made that Pelosi isn't being TRULY partisan, as the long term benefits of non-partisan redistricting would benefit dems in places like Ohio, even Texas! Pelosi seems to be willing, in this instance, to sell out larger party goals for her own immediate interests. But this issues to me is about a higher virtue of fairness which SHOULD trump party or ideology.
Unless of course someone can tell me how prop 77 isn't fair and republicans can manipulate it to an unfair advantage?