January 6, 2005


I swear that I had this exact same thought over breakfast when I first read it in the paper. I just never wrote it down. Good thing Political Animal has:

No, what depressed me was Schwarzenegger's proposal to end gerrymandering in California — and that's hugely ironic, because not only is this is a great idea, but the scuttlebutt says that in order to get Democrats to support it Schwarzenegger will agree to extend term limits from the current 14 years (6 in the legislature and 8 in the senate) to 20 or 24 years. That's also a good idea, since the combination of safe seats and absurdly short terms means we have a legislature that's both extremist and inexperienced. It's a toxic brew.

So why am I depressed? Because the insanely partisan atmosphere of contemporary American politics means I can't support this proposal even though I think it would be good for the state. After watching Texas Republicans ram through a brutally gerrymandered mid-decade redistricting that gained the Republican party four congressional seats in the 2004 election, how stupid would a California Democrat have to be to agree to meekly support a goo-goo proposal that would have the effect of giving Republicans more seats in yet another state? Guys like Tom DeLay and Hugh Hewitt would be guffawing in their beers for days about our terminal naivete if we went along with this. Raw power would be their ally in red states and appeals to progressive idealism would be their ally in the blue states. That's quite a combination.

Now to disagree. This may not be as bad for California democrats as Kevin thinks. What Schwarzenegger really want are more competitive districts for both sides. Right now everyone is a lock and the Govenator can't dangle their job in front of them to move his agenda. Competitive districts tend to produce moderates (Good for Schwarzenegger proposals) and close races than can be influenced by say a popular statewide official. The govenator doesn't want to lock in more conservatives. There is no reason to think that the Donkeys couldn't win a bunch of competitive seats and widen their margins over the old system. It is California after all.

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