Common Cause & Redistricting
by MurshedZ, Fri Feb 18, 2005 at 08:36:19 AM EST
Chellie Pingree, the President of Common Cause posted her thoughts in response to some of our friends' concerns on our blog this morning. Obviously since the Governor of California has such a high national profile, it has brought the issue in the national spotlight.
First of all before we get more into this discussion, I think it is very important if you can please read our Linked text guidelines and principles based on which we are pushing for redistricting in California and in about dozen other states.
More after the proverbial jump.
Wow, most comments are really missing the point on this partnership with Arnold.
There seem to be 4 main reactions, all of which are narrowminded and/or incorrect.
1) Arnold is Republican, therefore the outcome of the redistricting initiative will benefit Republicans.
2)Arnold can't be trusted and will trick Common Cause into being a front for a Republican powergrab.
3)This plan is bad, misguided, doomed to fail, a contract with the devil, not as good as x alt., etc. etc.
4) Look what happened in Texas. I hate Tom Delay. I am ending my support of CC, etc.
The name Common Cause isn't just a cute throwback to a long extinct political concept. Common Cause means finding the political reforms that make the system work for everyone - i.e. how democracy is supposed to work. If Arnold is willing to pursue the initiative on the table and work with Common Cause on seeing it enacted, then there is common cause between us and there is no reason not to benefit from support from the executive of the world's 7th largest economy in pursuing a very necessary reform.
As to the 4 major comments here are my views.
1) Arnold is only proposing this initiative. It must still be adopted to ballot by the legislature. CA's Dems are not going to sign off on anything that will give all the power to the governor. This plan puts the redistricting process as far away from the politicians as is practical. If the plan benefits any party disproportionately (which I doubt) it will not be because of Arnold, since he won't be the one drawing the districts.
2) CC is no idealistic amateur when it comes to negotiating political reforms with entrenched, sneaky, doublefaced politicians - of any political stripe. CC has succesfully been navigating the treacheries of D.C. for decades and knows how the game is played.
CC is nobody's front or fig leaf. The second Arnold goes sour on this he can bank on CC dropping their support and telling the world about it.
3) No plan is going to make the world perfect. The point is to always move forward in a productive way. The puritan front among commenters would do much better to view the realities of this situation rather than wishing for something they will never get - a political reform passed only by ethical politicians of their own viewpoint.
4) This plan is not at all what happened in Texas. TX legislators decided to violate their state's constitution and redraw their districts again within the set period. Those districts were drawn by legislators. This plan is trying to fix that exact problem. The plan is not simply to redraw the districts. Go read the proposal.
This plan is a starting point. If you are irked because you don't like it - make democracy work for you and urge your rep.s to change it to your liking before adoption. And be glad that Arnold has put it on the table for you. Would that have happened without Arnold making it a priority? Not with the 153 people sitting in the same seats for another term; seats given out by this broken system.
Moreover, for those who are so concerned how this redistricting reform intiative will have the same impact as the redistricting intiatives Tom DeLay undertook in Texas, should read this LA Times article on how redistricting in California could backfire on the GOP:
The fear is that tinkering with the California congressional boundaries could jeopardize Republican control of the U.S. House. By some estimates, the state's 20-person GOP congressional delegation opposes the governor's effort 4 to 1.
The Republican backlash underscores a reality of redistricting: What's most important to incumbents is ensuring their own survival. Even with California Republicans confined to minority status in both the legislative and congressional delegations, many members would rather keep the existing lines than gamble on a plan that could plunk them in unfriendly districts where they would have trouble getting reelected.
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