Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

July 14, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

REDISTRICTING IN CALIFORNIA....I voted against the redistricting initiative on the California ballot last year because I eventually concluded that it was just a little too cute in the way it tipped the balance of power in favor of Republicans. However, Arnold Schwarzenegger is apparently going to try again, this time proposing an easing of term limits as the bait:

Schwarzenegger said in an interview Thursday he does not believe term limits have improved Sacramento's political culture....One idea already under consideration in the Legislature would double the number of years members could serve in the Assembly to 12 from six provided they not run for the Senate when their term is up. Senators' maximum service could be extended to 12 years from eight.

....Schwarzenegger says that he wants to make California elections more competitive, and that a new method of redistricting would help. He is backing a measure by Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) that would transfer political map-making powers to a panel of 11 citizens, chosen by a bipartisan group of lawmakers and judges, and take effect after the 2010 census.

This strikes me as a far superior alternative. I support term limits, but California's are simply too short, producing a legislature with little independent expertise and far too much dependence on staff and lobbyists. Increasing term limits to 12 years would produce a better legislature while still preventing the career-itis that term limits are designed to eliminate.

Likewise, a little more buffering between the redistricting panel and the legislature is probably a good idea, as is the agreement to have this take effect after the next census in 2010. The major remaining detail is defining the limitations on how districts can be drawn, an area ripe for mischief. But this is a case where a legislative referendum is superior to a citizen initiative, since Lowenthal's bill can make progress only if Democrats and Republicans both satisfy themselves that the rules are reasonably fair. There won't be a repeat of last year's attempt to unilaterally draft subtle rules that favor one party over the other with voters then told to take it or leave it.

There's no telling if Lowenthal's bill will go anywhere, since even the carrot of increased term limits might not be enough to get legislators to give up their redistricting power. But it's a promising effort.

Kevin Drum 12:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (86)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

We need publicly financed elections. Regular citizens should be able to run for office, without first having to sell and internet company or become a film idol.

Posted by: craigie on July 14, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

There were some proposals from Democrats last year that Schwarzenegger brushed off. (Because they were to balanced?)

Most real research shows that redistricting doesn't have nearly the effect that redistrictring crusaders make out of it. (How competitive are Arizona races, before and after independent districting efforts?) A far bigger problem is money.

Posted by: gq on July 14, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

I don't support term limits. Sure, incumbents have incredible power to get reelected. But it is easier to beat an incumbent in a general election than it is to beat the party's choice and line in a primary.

All you do is transfer the power of a safe district from an elected official who has to face the public to the backroom bosses who get to hand out the party's line and other goodies.

Posted by: Nathan Rudy on July 14, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

We need publicly financed elections.

No we don't.

Regular citizens should be able to run for office, without first having to sell and internet company or become a film idol.

They already can and they already do. Public offices in the U.S. are full of "regular citizens."

Posted by: GOP on July 14, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

The purpose of term limits is to prevent other people from voting for the person they want to vote for. If you don't want the incumbent to win, don't vote for the incumbent, but other people should have every right to do so. Term limits are a way of imposing your beliefs on other voters. It is elitist to think you know best, and that other voters are too stupid to know that the incumbent doesn't deserve to be re-elected.

Posted by: sc on July 14, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

My solution to this is to end term limits altogether but replace it with no consecutive terms in this way: legislators who are in office are ineligible to run for elected office. This has multiple consequences, two of which are intended. First, they cannot fundraise while in office, second there is no incumbent advantage in an election. Third, they may get to have a real job in the off season, which is probably where the weakness in this plan lies.

Posted by: Clint on July 14, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

But Kevin...if you have re-districting reform in CA, who's going to offset the shenanigans down here in TX? We can't have you acting all sensible when my state is acting like a jonesing crackhead in its lust for power.

Posted by: Snoopy on July 14, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

So Schwarzenegger's heart was in the right place but he was being manipulated by Republican party hacks?

I'd be interested in the details. The legislature would be a best place to work this out -- if they are willing to pass anything, and if you are content with two party rule.

Posted by: B on July 14, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

It strikes me as an equally stupid alternative that suffers from the same problem as the last brain-dead proposal:

1) That making elections "competitive" (virtually by definition, maximizing the number of dissatisfied voters) is the ideal, rather than maximizing the degree to which the legislature is representative of the will of the people.
2) That the best way to acheive those "competitive" elections is to maintain high-stakes district lines but move the power to redistrict into hands as distant as possible from any accountability to the electorate.

Compounding the problem by trying to tinker with the method by which California guarantees that lobbying groups have the upper hand by waging war against legislative experience (swapping longer term limits for restrictions on moving up the political foodchain) doesn't make the deal any more appealing.

You want to make the legislature more responsive, more representative, and at the same time reasonably limit the power of incumbency? You don't need term limits, just reorganize both houses into 5-member districts, elected by a candidate-centered systems that tends to produce proportional results, like Single Transferrable Vote. You can leave redistricting in the hands of the legislature, because without winner-take-all districts, the power to redistrict has minimal consequence.

I'd probably advocate expanding both houses a bit along with this: probably to about 125 for the Assembly (25 districts) and 75 for the Senate (15 districts).

There's no telling if Lowenthal's bill will go anywhere, since even the carrot of increased term limits might not be enough to get legislators to give up their redistricting power.

Getting to sit in the Assembly longer in exchange for not being able to move from the Assembly to the Senate isn't much of a carrot.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 14, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

When the Republicans in Texas give up their shenanigans, and the Republicans everywhere else give up their proposed shenanigans, then maybe we can bring up unilateral disarmament as the usual upper middle class "good government" b.s. it's been since the "Progressive" Era. Quite frankly, as someone who's been involved in politics for a long time, all these "good government" reforms never work, other than to the advantage of the s.o.b.s, making a bunch of upper middle class morons get to feel good about themselves. I defy anyone to name one of these political "reforms" that ever worked. It's the baloney of those who fail to understand that politics is SUPPOSED to be a blood sport. "Can't we all just get along?" is fine for a Sunday School sermon to 5 year olds.

Posted by: TCinLA on July 14, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, if Bush is held responsible for the American military's coldblooded rape, murder, and beheading of innocent Iraqi children, women, and the elderly, then surely we can hold Iran responsible for the actions of Hizblahh.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on July 14, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, if Bush is held responsible for the American military's coldblooded rape, murder, and beheading of innocent Iraqi children, women, and the elderly...

Sounds good. When does his trial start?

Posted by: sc on July 14, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

If you truly want citizen legislators who are not beholden to the special interests who help them get elected, the answer is to limit legislators to one very long term....think 4-6 years for an Assemblymen and 8-10 years for a Senator, and not allow them to run for any other office once their term is up.

If they never have to run for reelection, then the influence of special interests who buy influence through campaign contributions will be significantly muted.

Posted by: MattW on July 14, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Clint - try this modification: rather than disallowing legislators from serving consecutive terms, just put some limit on the number of consecutive terms they may serve all or part of.

I don't have a problem with legislators serving a long time. But the advantages of incumbency are substantial, and this would keep legislators from staying around forever just because no challenger could overcome those advantages.

Posted by: RT on July 14, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

We need publicly financed elections. Regular citizens should be able to run for office, without first having to sell and internet company or become a film idol.

Absolutely.

Posted by: shortstop on July 14, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

1) That making elections "competitive" (virtually by definition, maximizing the number of dissatisfied voters) is the ideal, rather than maximizing the degree to which the legislature is representative of the will of the people.

"Maximizing the degree to which the legislature is representative of the will of the people" is obviously not "the ideal" under any system in which legislators represent constituencies defined by geographical areas such as states, counties and districts. The fundamental premise of your argument is inconsistent with the American political system, and the political systems of all other liberal democracies.

Posted by: GOP on July 14, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK
"Maximizing the degree to which the legislature is representative of the will of the people" is obviously not "the ideal" under any system in which legislators represent constituencies defined by geographical areas such as states, counties and districts.

Well, clearly such geographical systems are not perfect (but, as no perfect system exists, anyhow, that's not really saying much) for serving that purpose, but that doesn't mean that isn't a desirable purpose.

The fundamental premise of your argument is inconsistent with the American political system,

Its inconsistent with the American political system insofar as it would recommend a different electoral structure than the status quo structure. But, that's hardly a meaningful criticism of something that is a proposal to change the status quo structure.

and the political systems of all other liberal democracies.

Well, no, there are plenty of liberal democracies that hold representiveness (proportionality) as a principal premise of their electoral system and reflect it in their structure, some going so far as to either avoid internal districts altogether and use some single-national-pool proportional scheme (often party-list proportional), and others that apportion part of a legislative body by districts but the rest by a formula to acheive, when combined with that first part, proportional representation.

While usually your arguments descend into something as stupid as this, they usually start somewhere more tenable.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 14, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

You are right, GOP. If the legislature represented the will of the people, it owuld never have been in Republican hands, as far more voters fo Senators and Congressmen went D than R. It's the geographic nature of the districts that makes Repub control of Congress possible.

Posted by: CN on July 14, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

I like term limits only because I'm a bit of a political junkie and the regular candidate churn that term-limits cause is much more fun to watch than voting for the same damn guy/gal every four years until I die.

That said, if we're intent on shaking things up, I wholeheartedly endorse cmdicely's proposal of multimemeber districts, combined with Single Transferrable Vote (of which IRV is a form). That is the best way to make sure that the fullest-possible range of California voters are represented in the California legislator. Where I live (Venice, CA), there's a huge chunk of ultra-progressive voters (darn near a plurality of the district) whose values are effectively unrepresented in Sacramento, due to the moderate voters in Torrance with whom we share our district, and who outnumber us... not by too much, but just enough to silence us each election. Multimember districts would increase the likelihood that BOTH constituencies in this district would be represented in Sacramento (which seems, to me, far more democratic than the status quo). I'd eagerly trade that in exchange for term limits.

I also agree that we need full public financing of elections, despite GOP's very effective rebuttal ("No we don't").

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on July 14, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

that would transfer political map-making powers to a panel of 11 citizens, chosen by a bipartisan group of lawmakers and judges

I think that instead of a panel of 11 citizens, it should be a panel of 11 citizens holding doctorate degrees in geography. Surely the California university system can manage this function - that's what I pay taxes for.

Posted by: Wapiti on July 14, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Well, if we are going to finance things with public money, then why not limit campaign expenditures to zero? No money spent, no problem.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on July 14, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, there is my other solution - no elections at all. All public offices are filled with randomly chosen citizens, like jury duty. You can't refuse, and once you have served, you can never do it again, even (especially) if you want to.

I think it's a winner. Now if I can just work giant sandworms into it somehow, I think it will be beyond criticism...

Posted by: craigie on July 14, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Term limits are undemocratic. As sc says above, they're a way to prevent other people from voting for someone they want to vote for. If you want to make things easier for challengers, then do that by some means a little more imaginative than completely banning incumbents from running.

Also, I've never understood why elected offices are the only jobs where experience is supposed to be a disqualification.

Posted by: KCinDC on July 14, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

Well, clearly such geographical systems are not perfect (but, as no perfect system exists, anyhow, that's not really saying much) for serving that purpose, but that doesn't mean that isn't a desirable purpose.

You didn't say "desirable," you said "ideal." There are many "desirable" purposes of political systems, including limiting the power of legislators to rewrite the rules governing the next election to disfavor their opponents, which is precisely why the kind of gerry-mandering going on in California is such a problem.

Its inconsistent with the American political system insofar as it would recommend a different electoral structure than the status quo structure.

It would require the complete elimination of states, districts, counties, cities and all other political units defined by geography. That's not merely a "difference" from the "status quo," it's a completely different political system. There's a reason this country is called the United States of America, you know.

Well, no, there are plenty of liberal democracies that hold representiveness (proportionality) as a principal premise of their electoral system and reflect it in their structure,

This is irrelevant. In which democracy are there no political subdivisions defined by geography? Answer: None. Every democracy in the world has devised a political system that expressly precludes your "ideal."

Posted by: GOP on July 14, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK
Of course, there is my other solution - no elections at all. All public offices are filled with randomly chosen citizens, like jury duty. You can't refuse, and once you have served, you can never do it again, even (especially) if you want to.

If its random like jury duty, I don't know that there needs to be a restriction on repetition; I actually think that as a serious reform, having one house of a legislature (perhaps a "third house" with very limited powers, like the power to delay legislation of the British House of LordS) might actually be a useful idea, though its a pretty extreme idea.

Now if I can just work giant sandworms into it somehow, I think it will be beyond criticism...

Well, yeah, giant sandworms do have that effect...

Posted by: cmdicely on July 14, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey Ward: "Well, if we are going to finance things with public money, then why not limit campaign expenditures to zero? No money spent, no problem."

I assume you're being facetious, so I'm a dope for responding, but just in case you're not...

Public financing of campaigns has to be voluntary to pass constitutional muster. Thus, a certain amount of money must be offered to pulicly financed candidates, in order for them to compete against candidates who opt not to participate in public financing.

In a race where *all* candidates voluntarily opt to accept no private cash, and there are no IE's targeting (or supporting) any of those candidates, then I guess you're right, it'd be fine to limit all of them to zero expenditures. In principle, I don't necessarily have any problem with that.

Though, again, I don't suppose you were making a serious proposal.

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Posted by: patrick Meighan on July 14, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe it's just me, but I think unconditionally surrendering the House to the GOP for eternity is well...not a very bright thing to do. Putting re-districting in neutral hands is a great idea...IF AND ONLY IF everyone does it. But if big Dem states like California do it at the same time the SCoTUS is stamping approval on the treasonous DeLay Texas shenanigans? Uh-uh. We should be going the opposite direction with that SCotUS ruling - every state with a Dem majority should immediately look at whether redistricting now would pick up seats.

No unilateral disarmament.

Posted by: chaboard on July 14, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

though its a pretty extreme idea.

Not really, not if you think about it. The House of Lords is an interesting parallel, since how did those people get to be Lords and Ladies? By chance, basically. Unfortunately, the method of their selection happens to tilt the table in favor of a particular sort of person, so it's not representative of the country as a whole, but it is random.

One thing's for sure - nobody could argue that 535 randomly chosen individuals didn't represent the country as a whole, at least as well, if not better, than 535 self-selected, gerrymandered egomaniacs.

Posted by: craigie on July 14, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

One reason it is so difficult to draw up districts fairly in California is, (to make a broad generalization) that it tends to be made up of relatively small, dense urban areas that are predominantly Democrat, and relatively large rural areas that are more mixed Democrat and Republican.

If you were going to paint California with fixed amounts of Blue and Red paint, painting some areas solid blue means there's less blue paint left for the other areas, which end up being a reddish shade of purple, even though there's less red paint to start with.

Posted by: sc on July 14, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Patrick Meighan,

That said, if we're intent on shaking things up, I wholeheartedly endorse cmdicely's proposal of multimemeber districts, combined with Single Transferrable Vote (of which IRV is a form). That is the best way to make sure that the fullest-possible range of California voters are represented in the California legislator.

No it isn't. As long as you retain districts at all, as long as you are allowed to vote only for candidates running for seats in your district, your representation is necessarily limited by that geographical restriction. Even with multi-member districts and STV, there are likely to be groups of voters in each district that are too small to elect their preferred candidate, but who would be able to do so if they could combine their votes with those of similar groups in other districts.

Posted by: GOP on July 14, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Patrick Meighan,

Of course, I was being facetious, but only as a way to open some debate. However, the issue of "voluntary" participation should cut both ways, don't you think. Why should my tax dollars be used to support candidates I don't wish to support?

Posted by: Yancey Ward on July 14, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Why should my tax dollars be used to support candidates I don't wish to support?

Cut that shit out. You're not supporting the candidates, you're supporting the process. The idea that every dollar I spend must directly benefit me me me is the most destructive force yet unleashed by conservaloony-world on the fabric of society.

Posted by: craigie on July 14, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Why should my tax dollars be used to support candidates I don't wish to support?

Why should my tax dollars be used to support a preemptive invasion of a country that posed no threat, and the subsequent occupation of that country and entanglement in its civil war?

Posted by: haha on July 14, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

The idea that every dollar I spend must directly benefit me me me is the most destructive force yet unleashed by conservaloony-world on the fabric of society.

The idea that conservatives seek that is one of the typical egregious misrepresentations of conservative goals promulated by loony liberals.

Posted by: GOP on July 14, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Why should my tax dollars be used to support a preemptive invasion of a country that posed no threat, and the subsequent occupation of that country and entanglement in its civil war?

They weren't.

Posted by: GOP on July 14, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Haha,

You will get no argument from me.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on July 14, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Why should my tax dollars be wasted on corrupt contractors? Why should my tax dollars be wasted on "faith-based" social groups? Why should my tax dollars be wasted in support of religious schools?

Posted by: haha on July 14, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

They weren't.

They were. They still are.

Posted by: haha on July 14, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK
One reason it is so difficult to draw up districts fairly in California is, (to make a broad generalization) that it tends to be made up of relatively small, dense urban areas that are predominantly Democrat, and relatively large rural areas that are more mixed Democrat and Republican.

I think a more fundamental problem is an absence of a well-accepted, coherent definition of what it means to draw up districts "fairly", combined with the very high stakes involved in drawing single-member, winner-take-all districts.

Which is (among the reasons) why I prefer a system that keeps elections candidate-centered (rather than a party-list PR system, say) but reduces the stakes in line-drawing.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 14, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Haha,

Again, you will get no argument from me.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on July 14, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

GOP: "As long as you retain districts at all, as long as you are allowed to vote only for candidates running for seats in your district, your representation is necessarily limited by that geographical restriction. Even with multi-member districts and STV, there are likely to be groups of voters in each district that are too small to elect their preferred candidate, but who would be able to do so if they could combine their votes with those of similar groups in other districts."

All that is probably true. That said, I'm not 100% sure what you're advocating.

Are you, in fact, advocating a dissolution of all district boundaries within the state of California, and electing the Assembly and the State Senate via a system of proportional representation?

I suppose I'd prefer that to the status quo.

But, personally, I think I'd prefer multi-member districts even more, if only for the greater candidate access I have at my disposal when my preferred candidate happens to reside in my neighborhood as opposed to when he/she lives across the state. Also, it seems that a state-wide office run is likely to be much more expensive than an office run in a local district... thus giving heavily-funded candidates an even greater advantage than they currently have in district-wide elections.

Again, though, I'm not even sure if a system of statewide proportional representation is what you're genuinely advocating.

Could you please clarify?

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on July 14, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Let the people decide the district boundaries by ratifying whatever the "official" committee (the Legislature or Arnie buddies) come up with. Might keep them from going too crazy. If it doesn't pass - keep the status quo.

Eliminate term limits.

Restrict fund raising by incumbants by some time formula. Challengers can raise money whenever they want.

Ensure that candidates that pass certain measures (funds raised, petitions, etc.) have access to media - which is provided at cost by media distributors.

Eliminate the amount a candidate can raise and from where - get rid of soft/hard money.

Provide public transparency to fund raising as it happens via the internet. Individual contributions maintain personal privacy from public eyes, but have to disclose some demographically-relavant data.

All organizations must disclose amounts and individuals that authorized contribution (e.g., unions disclose who made decision to contribution, but not all individual members, likewise corporations and advocacy groups).

Fund expense with a tax on political contributions over $250, regardless of source.

Posted by: peBird on July 14, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

The problem I see with statewide PR in California is that California is, well, big.

This presents three basic possibilities:
1) Party-list PR: I know some countries have it, and they apparently are satisfied with it. Personally, I think it puts more distance between the people and their representatives since you don't vote for the rep, you vote for the party. So I'd prefer to keep it candidate-centered.

2) Enormous lists of candidates to deal with: With the present size of the assembly, and assuming four parties, each putting up enough candidates to take only half the house, you'd have 160 candidates to choose from—and perhaps rank. Probably, realistically, there would be many more.

3) Too small of a legislature: You can combat the previous two problems by reducing the size of the house, but that limits the number of voices, too, and also reduces the ability of members to focus especially on particular subject matter.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 14, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey,

Your question ("Why should my tax dollars be used to support candidates I don't wish to support?") has been replied to pretty well already.

To everyone else's answers, I would add that, currently, your tax dollars go to support many other programs and initiatives that you might not support and, in fact, might not even exist were it not for the indebtedness that our elected leaders feel to the special interests and large donors who are responsible for their very election, and for whose benefit said programs were designed. I'm talking serious handouts, Yancey, stuff like public-sector employee pensions, and farm subsidies, and a flawed energy deregulation scheme that cost our state hundreds of billions of *your* tax dollars.

Compared to the price tag on the above, a few million dollars to electoral candidates--even candidates *you* don't personally support--is nothing, particularly if the net result is a severing of the dependency our elected officials have on special interests and large donors who expect (and receive) fistfulls of public largesse in return.

In short, I'm trying to save *your* tax dollars, Yancey!

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on July 14, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

I think a more fundamental problem is an absence of a well-accepted, coherent definition of what it means to draw up districts "fairly"

Two elements of fair districting that I think everyone can agree on would be that:

1) A district should be drawn so that it contains people with similar interests so that those interests can be fairly represented.

2) The number of districts represented by one party should reflect the overall percentage of voters in that party. In other words, if 40% of voters statewide belonged to the Green party, then that party should ideally hold 40% of the seats.

Unfortunately, I don't think it's possible to satisfy both of those goals simultaneously.

Posted by: s on July 14, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

s,

Its actually probably fairly easy to satisfy those two goals (at least approximately) simultaneously with single-member districts, though its hard to do it with compact, contiguous, etc., districts, and its quite certain the districts won't be competitive at all.

And it certainly seems lots of people think districts being compact, contiguous, and competitive are elements of fairness in how single-member districts are drawn.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 14, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Patrick Meighan,

So you simply take it as a given that corruption and waste is a function of campaign contributions. I simply disagree with this assertion. However, even if you were correct, and you might be saving me money, I would still be opposed to the funding of political candidates that I am opposed to. If you wish to create an open fund for candidates to voluntarily submit to, then do so, but don't depend on government contributions to fund it.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on July 14, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK
I ended up voting against the redistricting initiative on the California ballot last year because I eventually concluded that it was just a little too cute in the way it tipped the balance of power in favor of Republicans.

Bzzt! Try again...

... 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.

You voted against it not because it was "too cute" but because you didn't want give Arnold any kind of "support" at all, even if it was -- objectively -- a good idea that was being proposed.

That wouldn't have any similarities to the left-wing's ardent animosity and lack-of-support for any foreign policy proposal coming out of the Bush Administration WHATSOEVER, now would it?

I swear, Bush says the sun will come up tomorrow and y'all'll argue that it's a Rovian mind trick. Arnold (and me, and others who worked to get Prop 77 passed!) supports a good change and it gets smacked, but when a Democrat tries it....

Posted by: J.C. on July 14, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

As I see it, having compact and contiguous districts is only desirable in as much as it means those districts will be more homogenous in terms of its residents' priorities.

A republican in Fresno is likely to agree with his democrat neighbor when it comes to spending money on a bridge in San Francisco. But, he will likely agree with a republican in San Diego when it comes to abortion rights.

If you want to fairly represent regional and local issues, such as water use, highway funds, etc., which tend not to be partisan, then it makes sense to have compact, contiguous districts. But in California, that means you have more Republican districts than are justified by the overall population due to the way the population is distributed.

As far as competitiveness goes, I don't see how that is a benefit in itself, especially when it results in making districts less homogenous.

Posted by: sc on July 14, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

"So you simply take it as a given that corruption and waste is a function of campaign contributions. I simply disagree with this assertion."

Okay, well, perhaps we're gonna just have to disagree on this point. I think corruption and waste have many causes, but I feel that, in many many cases, the corruption is a case of office-holder payback to the financial interests who helped them get elected. But I can't prove it just now, and I'm too lazy to scour the internet to back up my assertion, so let's just let it lie.

"However, even if you were correct, and you might be saving me money, I would still be opposed to the funding of political candidates that I am opposed to."

You'd rather spend *more* tax money than you otherwise would, if it meant, in return, none of your tax dollars might possibly support a political candidate you oppose? Really?! Just how committed to that principle are you? Would you be willing to pay 1.5x the taxes you otherwise would, in exchange for the knowledge that not one cent of your money went to a political candidate you oppose? How 'bout 2x? 10x? 100x?

Personally, I'm less motivated by public financing's promise of decreasing corruption (though that IS a motivator) than I am by public financing's promise of electing candidates who are divorced from the incentive of representing the will of large donors, leaving them instead with the job of representing the will of their actual voters. For that, I'm willing to pay *more* in taxes, not less, even if some of those tax dollars end up going to political candidates I don't happen to support.

"If you wish to create an open fund for candidates to voluntarily submit to, then do so, but don't depend on government contributions to fund it."

Sadly, governmental contribution is probably the only way to do it. Sorry, Yancey. I guess we all end up paying for stuff we don't necessarily consent to... for example, I paid for the paved road that's sitting outside *your* house/apartment, Yancey, and the road you drive to get from your home to your work, and I pay for the firefighters who'll show up if your home starts to burn down, Yancey... y'know, no one ever asked my permission for that stuff, and maybe I'd prefer that, instead, you'd've started up a private fund for all that great stuff you use, Yancey, and not taken it out of *my* tax dollars, but, dammit, I guess them's the breaks. Oh well.

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Posted by: patrick Meighan on July 14, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

J.C.,

Even though I think Drum's reasons for voting against the initiative are hypocritical, I think the two blog entries are not at odds with one another. I think, by the phrase "too cute", Drum simply means that such proposals in the state of California, while absent in states like Texas, do tip the political balance of power to Republicans.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on July 14, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Patrick,

That is a weak argument for such a proposal. I am not the one that supports government funding as first resort for anything, including roads or fire departments.

In an earlier comment, you wrote that it would only cost a few hundred million dollars in the state to fund such a program. If that is the case, then why do you think only government could fund it? Is it really so hard to find such an amount of money in the private realm? Are there really no internet billionaires who think this proposal has merit? Such a claim almost amounts to a concession that the idea has no popular support of any kind.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on July 14, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

I did vote for the CA redistricting proposal last year and was disappointed to see it fail.

What I would also support is complete removal of the primary system so the lunatic fringe on either side can stop sending us lametards that end up forcing us to hold our nose and vote for based solely choosing between the lesser of two evils.

And while we are at it, I would also support restricting all campaign donations for anything other than a presidential race be limited to residents and businesses in the ACTUAL DISTRICT.

Posted by: arteclectic on July 14, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Patrick,

All that is probably true. That said, I'm not 100% sure what you're advocating.

I wasn't really advocating anything. I was pointing out that representation is limited by the use of geographical districts as well as by the use of single-member, winner-take-all constituencies.

But, personally, I think I'd prefer multi-member districts even more, if only for the greater candidate access I have at my disposal when my preferred candidate happens to reside in my neighborhood as opposed to when he/she lives across the state.

But your preferred candidate doesn't necessarily reside in your neighborhood. He may in fact reside across the state.

Also, it seems that a state-wide office run is likely to be much more expensive than an office run in a local district... thus giving heavily-funded candidates an even greater advantage than they currently have in district-wide elections.

Increasing the number of seats in districts would also increase election costs. And multi-member districts with STV have other potential problems, such as voter confusion and party fragmentation. And the whole idea that increasing the number of representatives increases the degree of representation is dubious anyway. It tends to increase polarization and decrease the incentive for compromise. Senators tend to be much more moderate than Representatives because their constituencies are much larger and more politically diverse.

Posted by: GOP on July 14, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with chaboard at 2:02.

We've got to fight fire with fire, and redraw California to elect as many Dems as possible, instead of to assure re-election of incumbents, which is what the Lege did at the last redistricting.

Posted by: Cal Gal on July 14, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK
I was pointing out that representation is limited by the use of geographical districts as well as by the use of single-member, winner-take-all constituencies.

Single-member, winner-take-all constituencies are the extreme limit case of limiting representation by geographical districting; of course, in massive at-large elections, effective representation can be limited by factors other than geographical districting: difficulty in managing candidate information (if there are too many candidates to review them well), or inability to select specific candidates and reliance on additional levels of indirection (as in party list systems).

Which is why I've proposed small multimember districts with candidate-centered elections to improve representation, rather than some at-large election system.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 14, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

If you want to fairly represent regional and local issues, such as water use, highway funds, etc., which tend not to be partisan, then it makes sense to have compact, contiguous districts. But in California, that means you have more Republican districts than are justified by the overall population due to the way the population is distributed.

Well, there's the rub. The number of Republican districts isn't justified solely by the proportion of the state-wide population that is Republican. It also matters where those people live. One of the basic principles of the American political system is that geographical distribution matters too. That's why Wyoming gets exactly the same number of Senators as California even though California has vastly more people.

Posted by: GOP on July 14, 2006 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK
And the whole idea that increasing the number of representatives increases the degree of representation is dubious anyway.

No, its not.

It tends to increase polarization and decrease the incentive for compromise.

I'd like to see your evidence that increasing the number of representatives per district increases polarization or incentive to compromise, but, then again, I'd also point out that that claim is irrelevant to representativeness anyhow.

Senators tend to be much more moderate than Representatives because their constituencies are much larger and more politically diverse.

Granting, arguendo, that Senators are "much more moderate" than Representatives, the suggested explanation is spurious; simply because there's far less of them you'll expect that you'll lose the extremes of the distribution, and a better explanation, I'd say, of a generally more moderate tone would be that they face election far less frequently and thus can get away with more space in between actions aimed to appeal to extreme activist groups.

But, in any case, moderation is not the same as representation.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 14, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK
One of the basic principles of the American political system is that geographical distribution matters too. That's why Wyoming gets exactly the same number of Senators as California even though California has vastly more people.

While, thats certainly a bedrock principle of the dual sovereignty structure of the federal government, its clearly not a principle applicable in the same way to apportioning power within each of the States; note that the states treating internal subdivisions, for representation, the way the feds treat statesproviding a lower house apportioned by population and an upper house by internal divisions without regard to populationis prohibited.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 14, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Which is why I've proposed small multimember districts with candidate-centered elections to improve representation, rather than some at-large election system.

But if your "ideal" (or is it now just a "desirable" goal?) is to maximize the representation of voters in the state legislature by increasing the number of members in their constituency, you should be advocating the elimination of all political subdivisions and allowing every voter to vote for any candidate for a single state-wide pool of representatives.

Posted by: GOP on July 14, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK
But if your "ideal" (or is it now just a "desirable" goal?) is to maximize the representation of voters in the state legislature

That is an ideal. Its not an exclusive one. Its an ideal in that, ceteris paribus, it should be maximized.

by increasing the number of members in their constituency,

That's not part of the ideal at all. That's something that is a desirable means, so far as it serves to maximize effective representation.

you should be advocating the elimination of all political subdivisions and allowing every voter to vote for any candidate for a single state-wide pool of representatives.

Well, yes, if increasing the number of members in a constituency was something I saw as an ideal, rather than a means to serve an ideal, that would, indeed, be something you would reasonably expect me to advocate.

I've already explained why super-large districts (including a single, state-wide pool, which is the limit case of "super-large districts") can be counterproductive to effective representation.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 14, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

No, its not.

Yes, it is.

I'd like to see your evidence that increasing the number of representatives per district increases polarization or incentive to compromise,

I didn't say it increases the incentive to compromise; I said it decreases it. Increasing the number of representatives per district decreases the number of votes a candidate needs to get elected, which increases the electability of marginal candidates. In Patrick's district, for example, assuming that his description of the political conditions there is accurate, increasing the number of members from one to two would likely produce a left-wing member elected by Venice Beach lefties and a right-wing member elected by Torrance righties, neither of whom would be electable if the district had only a single member.

but, then again, I'd also point out that that claim is irrelevant to representativeness anyhow.

No it isn't.

Granting, arguendo, that Senators are "much more moderate" than Representatives, the suggested explanation is spurious;

No it isn't. The larger and more politically diverse your constituency, the more moderate you are likely to be, because moderate candidates are likely to attract more votes than more partisan ones. That is why Senators tend to be much more moderate than Representatives, and why candidates for the presidency tack partisan during the primaries and tack back to the center for the general election.

Posted by: GOP on July 14, 2006 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

While, thats certainly a bedrock principle of the dual sovereignty structure of the federal government, its clearly not a principle applicable in the same way to apportioning power within each of the States;

It is a basic principle of the American political system at both the federal and state levels. Both federal and state government rely on political subdivisions defined by geography, precisely because the geographical distribution of voters is held to be important as well as their political or party preferences.

Posted by: GOP on July 14, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK
Increasing the number of representatives per district decreases the number of votes a candidate needs to get elected

No, it doesn't, when you are multiplying the size of the district by the same factors as the number of representatives, as I proposed.

In Patrick's district, for example, assuming that his description of the political conditions there is accurate, increasing the number of members from one to two would likely produce a left-wing member elected by Venice Beach lefties and a right-wing member elected by Torrance righties, neither of whom would be electable if the district had only a single member.

That's not necessarily true; its quite possible that one of those two, who would get virtually all the votes in a 2-seat election, would get a plurality of the votes in a 1-seat election, and still win. (Indeed, given that ideologically-extreme party activists are the most reliable primary voters, the winners proposed in your examples would quite likely be the major party candidates in a 1-seat election.)

No it isn't.

Yes, it is irrelevant: the electorate at any given time can be polarized and disinclined to compromise, in which the effect you point to might positively correlate with "representativeness", or it might be unified and inclined to compromise, in which case the effect might be negatively correlated with "representativeness". Simply saying that more representatives per district increases polarization and decreases inclination to compromise tells us nothing about what effect it has on representativeness, even if we assume the description is correct.

The larger and more politically diverse your constituency, the more moderate you are likely to be, because moderate candidates are likely to attract more votes than more partisan ones.

This really only makes sense if you assume "more politically diverse" has some correlation with "centered more closely to 'moderate'". Certainly, if you define moderate by the median national position on every issue, its not valid to conclude that larger districts within individual states gets you there, though simple statistics would suggest that larger districts drawn from a random sample of the national population would be more moderate than smaller districts drawn the same way.

But, again, more moderate representatives is simply one way of acheiving more uniformity in the legislature, less voices, and less effective representation. Making the legislature cluster narrowly around one viewpoint, whether "moderate", "liberal", or "conservative" is not the same thing as making it more representative.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 14, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

That is an ideal. Its not an exclusive one. Its an ideal in that, ceteris paribus, it should be maximized.

If your ideal political system is one that necessarily precludes the maximization of representation of voters in the state legislature, then that maximization is obviously not your ideal. So is it or isn't it?

That's not part of the ideal at all. That's something that is a desirable means,

No kidding, Sherlock. Maybe that's why I said "BY increasing the number of members in their constituency."

Well, yes, if increasing the number of members in a constituency was something I saw as an ideal,

Increasing the number of members in a constituency is exactly the means you just advocated for achieving your "ideal." You advocated replacing single-member districts with multi-member districts.

I've already explained why super-large districts (including a single, state-wide pool, which is the limit case of "super-large districts") can be counterproductive to effective representation.

Well yes, they can. So can multi-member districts and STV. Maybe you're finally starting to realize that the issue of maximizing political representation is rather more complex than just maximizing the number of voters who are represented by their preferred candidate.

Posted by: GOP on July 14, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK
Increasing the number of members in a constituency is exactly the means you just advocated for achieving your "ideal."

No, its not. Its an overbroad generalization of the means I advocated.

The means I actually advocated was small multimember districts with candidate centered elections using an election method that tends to produce proportional results, like STV.

That's not the same thing as simply "increasing the members in a constituency"; rather, it involves a judgement about how to overcome as much of the problem for effective representation caused by single-member districts as practical without overwhelming the benefit of larger district with barriers to effective representation stemming from other sources, which I have discussed already in the thread and see no need to repeat here.


Well yes, they can. So can multi-member districts and STV.

How?


Maybe you're finally starting to realize that the issue of maximizing political representation is rather more complex than just maximizing the number of voters who are represented by their preferred candidate.

I wouldn't say that; insofar as the issue is complex and involves competing factors that influence effective representation, I'm hardly "just starting to recognize that", as that is precisely the reason I advocated the exact reform I suggested, rather than false generalization of it you presented.

But, then again, while there are many factors, I wouldn't say its more complex than maximizing the number of voters served by their preferred candidate; indeed, I'd say that's arguably the exact definition of the problem (though an alternative definition is maximizing the degree to which the views in the legislature reflect those in the populace; while there are certainly interesting theoretical debates as to which is the preferable kind of representation, I think that, on a practical level, you end up with about the same type of reforms to acheive either within the limits of practicality and functioning government, though the abstract ideal model for each might be different).

The reason the issue is complex is not because the problem is more complex than that statement, but because there are many situations which make it difficult to get maximize what is sought to be maximized, and practical barriers with some superficially better systems which makes the preferences expressed in them less reliable as indications of actual preferences for candidates. (Both the "information overload" problem of excessively large districts, and the indirection problem of party-list PR are examples.)

But, again, none of this is something I'm just now realizing, contrary to your claims, its something that's behind the recommendation I've made, and something that I've discussed when discussing my views on this, on this blog, in the past, even with you.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 14, 2006 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

No, it doesn't, when you are multiplying the size of the district by the same factors as the number of representatives, as I proposed.

Huh? You proposed "small multimember districts." The smaller the district, the fewer votes a candidate needs to win. The more members a district has, the fewer votes a candidate needs to win. Can you really not see these obvious consequences?

And you're now trying to move the goalposts. Your request was: "I'd like to see your evidence that increasing the number of representatives per district increases polarization." I explained how this occurs, and now you're pretending that your request included the premise that the size of the district increases as well as the number of representatives.

That's not necessarily true;

Do you read anything I write with even minimal attention? I didn't say it's "necessarily" true. I said it's likely. Since each member in a two-member district can win with a much smaller number of votes than in a one-member district, marginal candidates are more electable in a two-member district, meaning there's a greater chance that such candidates will in fact be elected. If the voters of the district are as polarized as in Patrick's example, then it is especially likely. Honestly, this is basic Polital Science 101, but you still don't seem to understand it.

Simply saying that more representatives per district increases polarization and decreases inclination to compromise tells us nothing about what effect it has on representativeness, even if we assume the description is correct.

I didn't say it did. I said it's relevant to representativeness. How many more times are you going to misrepresent what I say so can keep playing your silly strawman games?

Polarization and lack of compromise can reduce representation by eroding effective government. Ever heard the phrase "Compromise is the mother's milk of politics?" Compromise and horse-trading are routine components of legislative activity. The more polarized and reluctant to compromise the members of a legislature are, the less likely they are to get things done, and the less likely they are to serve the interests of their constituents.


Posted by: GOP on July 14, 2006 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

This really only makes sense if you assume "more politically diverse" has some correlation with "centered more closely to 'moderate'".

I don't know what "centered more closely to 'moderate'" is supposed to mean. I don't know why you can't understand the basic principle here. In a district that's 90% Republican, a partisan Republican candidate is likely to win. In a district that's 90% Democrat, a partisan Democrat candidate is likely to win. In a district that's 50% Republican and 50% Democrat, a moderate, centrist candidate is likely to win. Comprendez? This is why Senators tend to be much more moderate than Representatives--because states are much larger and tend to be much more politically diverse than individual congressional districts within states. What part of this don't you understand?

But, again, more moderate representatives is simply one way of acheiving more uniformity in the legislature, less voices, and less effective representation. Making the legislature cluster narrowly around one viewpoint, whether "moderate", "liberal", or "conservative" is not the same thing as making it more representative.

It's not a matter of "making" anything. A polarized legislature, composed of lots of strongly partisan members of each party, is less likely to make the compromises and horse-trading necessary to get things done than a more moderate, less polarized legislature. Ever heard of the word "Gridlock?" For the reasons I have explained, increasing the number of members in a state's districts will tend to increase the polarization of its legislature, and thus tend to reduce its effectivess at governing. That is one way in which multi-member districts can erode representation.

Posted by: GOP on July 14, 2006 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK
You proposed "small multimember districts." The smaller the district, the fewer votes a candidate needs to win. The more members a district has, the fewer votes a candidate needs to win.

Clearly, you are skimming at responding to phrases without reading the whole posts, if you were actually reading, you would understand from context that "small" here does not refer to the size of the district compared to present districts, but its scale in terms of members, and that, more specifically, I recommend 5-member districts, with the current total number of members in both houses of the legislature either maintained or, possibly, increased by a little over 50% for the Assembly and just under double for the Senate.

Without the increase in seats, the guaranteed election thresholds—the number of votes needed to guarantee winning a seat in a house—would actually increase considerably compared to the status quo (as "over 1/6" of 5X is more than a "over 1/2" of X); even with the increase it would still take more votes to guarantee a seat than in the status quo in the Assembly, though slightly less (about 89% of the current number) in the Senate. (All, of course, assuming no change in turnout; of course, one of the reasons to propose a system which provides more viable choices which offers a chance for more voices to be represented is to decrease alienation and increase participation.)

And you're now trying to move the goalposts. Your request was: "I'd like to see your evidence that increasing the number of representatives per district increases polarization." I explained how this occurs, and now you're pretending that your request included the premise that the size of the district increases as well as the number of representatives.

Well, fine, you've explained how it occurs in a situation which has no bearing on the specific reforms recommended in this thread. Which makes it a nice abstract observation, and completely irrelevant. I don't think its moving the goalposts to note that while you answered the question asked about your criticism, your answer revealed that your criticism which prompted the question was misplaced.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 14, 2006 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey,

In general, "no internet billionaires who think (a) proposal has merit" =/= "the idea has no popular support of any kind".

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on July 14, 2006 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK
Ever heard of the word "Gridlock?"

Yeah, its something you usually see in systems with small numbers of parties (particularly two party systems), with either division of powers systems with an executive in opposite hands from the legislature or with supermajoritarian rules for passing key pieces of legislation (see, frequently, the CA budget).

Its not really something particularly common in systems with more proportional representation several viable parties, probably because such systems don't tend to feature a politics where any failure or setback for one party is an equal gain for its polar opposite.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 14, 2006 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

GOP,

Without conceding that any particular electoral reform is apt to increase or decrease polarization, I do have to note that I find the election of moderate representatives (or inclined-to-compromise representatives) to be of lesser importance than the election of *representative* representatives. Toward that end, I'd like to point out that your assumptions about the ideological nature of the representatives who emerge from my precinct are incorrect. You suppose that we likely tend to elect a center-left representative who tracks to the left of Torrance and to the right of Venice. You're wrong. We tend to elect the candidate Torrance shoves down Venice's throat... *far* further to the right than Venice would elect on its own, and scarcely ideologically divergent from Torrance's own political mainstream. Multimember districts would increase the likelihood that Venice's political values would be genuinely represented in Sacramento.

That, to me, far outweighs the importance of heading off gridlock. Gridlock, after all, is part of democracy.

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Posted by: patrick Meighan on July 14, 2006 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK
I don't know what "centered more closely to 'moderate'" is supposed to mean.

Exactly what it says.

I don't know why you can't understand the basic principle here.

I understand the principle, and it has nothing to do with "diversity", under any normal definition; it has to do with how close the ideological center of the district has to do with the position marked "moderate", inasmuch as it is true at all, which isn't very much.

In a district that's 90% Democrat, a partisan Democrat candidate is likely to win. In a district that's 50% Republican and 50% Democrat, a moderate, centrist candidate is likely to win.

Not really. In a district which is evenly split between the parties, chances are you'll get an partisan Democrat or a partisan Republican; which depends on whether a well-funded right or left third party candidate runs, which party does better at GOTV, which party is more effective at disseminating false information about where or when to vote to the other parties likely voters, etc.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 14, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, GOP, you're putting a great deal of importance on our nation's supposed commitment to the ideal of geographical representation, and I think it's misguided. Your continued citation of the US Senate, for example. The US Senate was not established to be a model for intrastate geographical representation. The US Senate was established as a concession to the less-populous colonies to assure them that they would not be steamrollered by the more-populous colonies in a new American republic.

That's it.

The US Senate's relevance to this current discussion of intrastate district apportionment is nil.

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Posted by: patrick Meighan on July 14, 2006 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

我向大家推荐:营销策划 网上批发市场,为您提供优质低价的营销策划,丰富营销策划行业资讯助您成交。您想要了解 公关策划 吗?请到中国公关策划网来寻找公关策划。您想要了解 拓展训练 吗?请到中国拓展训练网来寻找拓展训练。市场调研 网上批发市场,为您提供优质低价的市场调研,丰富市场调研行业资讯助您成交。要想寻找美容美发培训学校信息请访问 美容美发培训学校 网,各种美容美发培训学校应有尽有。北京 市场调研 厂向广大客户提供市场调研产品及市场调研服务。北京 市场调查 厂向广大客户提供市场调查产品及市场调查服务。上海 明略 公司专业生产明略产品,欢迎选择明略。上海 市场研究 公司专业生产市场研究产品,欢迎选择市场研究。市场调研 网上批发市场,为您提供优质低价的市场调研,丰富市场调研行业资讯助您成交。上海 市场调查报告/市场调研/资信调查 公司专业生产市场调查报告/市场调研/资信调查产品,欢迎选择市场调查报告/市场调研/资信调查。上海 影视传播 公司专业生产影视传播产品,欢迎选择影视传播。要想寻找论文发表信息请访问 论文发表 网,各种论文发表应有尽有。

The problem I see with statewide PR in California is that California is, well, big.

This presents three basic possibilities:
1) Party-list PR: I know some countries have it, and they apparently are satisfied with it. Personally, I think it puts more distance between the people and their representatives since you don't vote for the rep, you vote for the party. So I'd prefer to keep it candidate-centered.

2) Enormous lists of candidates to deal with: With the present size of the assembly, and assuming four parties, each putting up enough candidates to take only half the house, you'd have 160 candidates to choose fromand perhaps rank. Probably, realistically, there would be many more.

3) Too small of a legislature: You can combat the previous two problems by reducing the size of the house, but that limits the number of voices, too, and also reduces the ability of members to focus especially on particular subject matter.

Posted by: sam on July 14, 2006 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

Is it just me or will this not fly with the career politicians in the legislature because the proposal is actually reducing the number of years one can serve in the Legislatiure from 14 (6 in Assembly and 8 in Senate) to 12 (in one of the Houses--which you have to pick in advance--you can't serve in both)!

Posted by: Mad Professah on July 14, 2006 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

Its an overbroad generalization of the means I advocated.

No it isn't. It follows exactly from what you said you want. Your stated goal is to "maximize" (not merely increase, but "maximize") the "degree to which the legislature is representative of the will of the people." Your proposed method of achieving this goal by replacing single-member districts with multi-member districts demonstrates that you're defining "degree of representation" in terms of the number of voters whose preferred candidate is elected. That is also how you defined it in the previous thread discussing California gerrymandering. But to maximize the number of voters whose preferred candidate is elected you must eliminate districts completely and allow all voters to vote for any candidate from a single state-wide pool. So which position do you now wish to abandon, your goal of maximizing representation, or your opposition to the elimination of districts? You can't have it both ways because the positions are not consistent.

Posted by: GOP on July 14, 2006 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

The state could redistrict by initiative - voters submit competing maps, and those maps that receive a certain number of signatures go to the electorate for approval. The voter can vote yea on as many maps as they choose, and the most approved map wins.

Otherwise, I like the idea of multimember districts and proportional representation, but whenever a legislature draws lines, there are opportunities to draw districts such that the map gives disproportionate power to one party. But the logistical problem of picking from hundreds of candidates really leaves no other choice.

Posted by: Drew on July 15, 2006 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

How?

I already explained this: through voter confusion and political fragmentation, amoung other things. The Supreme Court has stated on many occasions that multimember districts pose greater threats to minority voter participation in the political process than do single-member districts.

Well, fine, you've explained how it occurs in a situation which has no bearing on the specific reforms recommended in this thread.

No, I've explained how it occurs under any kind of multimember redistricting plan that increases "the number of voters served by their preferred candidate." Any time that happens the legislature is necessarily more polarized, because each member represents a less politically diverse constituency.

[Gridlock is] not really something particularly common in systems with more proportional representation several viable parties,

Any increase in the political polarization of a legislature increases the chances of gridlock. A legislature comprised of a large number of strongly partisan members would be less likely to work effectively than a legislature comprised of more moderate members who are more willing to compromise and horse-trade. Since multimember districting would tend to decrease the political diversity of each member's constituency, it would increase the risk of gridlock.

Posted by: GOP on July 15, 2006 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

I'm impotent, lonely, and stupid. Sucks to be me.

Posted by: GOP on July 15, 2006 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

I understand the principle, and it has nothing to do with "diversity", under any normal definition;

If you think that, you still don't understand the principle. The less politically diverse a district is, the more politically partisan its member is likely to be. A 90% Republican district is likely to elect a strongly partisan Republican member. A 50% Repub/50% Dem district is likely to elect a centrist.

In a district which is evenly split between the parties, chances are you'll get an partisan Democrat or a partisan Republican;

No you won't. Chances are you'll get a moderate, a centrist. Because in a constituency that is evenly split between the parties, moderates are likely to appeal to more voters than partisans of either party. Sure, the winner will likely be somewhat partisan. He will still likely be either a Democrat or a Republican. But he'll most likely be from the center of his party. In contrast, a district that is 90% Republican is much more likely to elect a strongly partisan Republican member, and a district that is 90% Democrat is much more likely to elect a strongly partisan Democrat member.

Posted by: GOP on July 15, 2006 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

I'm drunk now.

Posted by: Advocate for God on July 15, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

By the way, GOP, you're putting a great deal of importance on our nation's supposed commitment to the ideal of geographical representation,

Huh? "Supposed" committment? It's in the CONSTITUTION, fer crying out loud. It's a fundamental part of all our elected offices. The nation is called the United States of America. You can't get much more a committment than that.

and I think it's misguided.

Well, you are free to lobby for a constitutional amendment to eliminate geographically defined political subdivisions from our system of government, but I rather doubt you'll attract many supporters.

Posted by: GOP on July 15, 2006 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

Can someone please tell me how it makes sense for California's majority Democratic voters to act alone in making their redistricting process a fair, non-partisan process when the Supreme Court has just freed the majority Red States (Texas, etc.) to gerrymander their opponents into political oblivion?

Does anyone really think the Republicans are going to decide (perhaps from Karl Rove's innate sense of fair play) that they'll join us in an embrace of best practices?

Posted by: Mike on July 15, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

When Texas and other GOP-gerrymandered states are put under this system, THEN my native California can give it a whirl. Until then, it's nothing but yet another bald right-wing power grab.

Posted by: Luis on July 15, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

This is too far down for anyone to notice, but do any of you actually remember why California needed term limits to begin with? First, the Republicans had no way to get rid of Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) even AFTER the Republicans had gained a one-vote margin in the state Assembly because a Republican assembly member who felt disrespected by the party regulars voted for Brown to continue as speaker, and second, the Republicans hadn't figured out a way to make their Assembly majority permanent. Term limits, quite frankly, are a subversion of the democratic process and they shouldn't exist anywhere.

Posted by: Dave in Northridge on July 15, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly