Wow. I was incredibly, and not pleasantly, surprised at Kos' support of Prop 77
. Basically, he wants to vote for it because (1) It is "reform" and gets rid of jerrymandering, and (2) by not supporting this, Democrats are going to be shooting themselves in the foot wheen reform measures come up in other states whose jerrymandering favors Republicans. Kos, for the first time, I think is missing the big issue. It's the separation of powers!
Let me break this up in a few parts: Separation and shift of power, 77 will bring more politics into the process instead of taking it out, and stopping the whinning about incumbent protection.
SEPARATION AND SHIFT OF POWERS
The big issue here is a principle, not a party. The principle is called separation of powers. The California Constitution - as most other state Constitutions - puts the power to draw legislative and Congressional districts in the hands of a legislative body rather than unelected judges. That power of drawing districts is given to the legislative branch of government, not the judicial branch. What you are doing with Prop 77 is shifting the ballance of power from the legislative branch to the judicial branch. Sure, the legislative leaders have a role to play still, but the shift in power still occurs. We ought not be shifting delicate balances of powers willy nilly. Why we believe unelected judges - who have zero direct accountability to the people - will do a better job than elected legislators is beyond me. Judges are there to interpret the Constitution and the laws, not to draw districts.
Whatever the flaws of the legislature, at the moment, at least two stages of public debate ensues - in the Assembly and in the State Senate. They are the people most responsive to the calls of their constituents. And, as is done all the time, the plan that the legislature approves can always be taken to court and if it's unfair or violates the California Constitution, California courts can void it, and enforce a new plan in place of it. There is ALREADY judicial oversight of this process. The power of the legislature is not unchecked.
77 MEANS MORE POLITICS IN THE PROCESS, NOT LESS SO
Furthermore, there is absolutely no guarantee that Prop 77 will do anything to end gerrymandering. It's a 3 judge panel - which ensures that one party will have a majority on that panel. Oh and the only condition for the judges is that they must be *party loyalists*, i.e. never have changed parties since becoming a judge! Don't you just love it? And do you really think that when the judges draw the districts, and it goes to voters to approve (as it will if 77 passes) the ordinary voters are really going to take the time and decide how fair that plan really is? Can you really expect that? What do you think is going to happen? Instead of debate over these plans, there will be 30-second ad blitz from the pro and con sides to confuse the hell out of people. Politics is by no means taken out of this with Prop 77, in fact, it can be argued that more politics is injected in this manner. Oh and if the voters do reject the plan the judges draw up, guess what? The plan that voters just rejected is still good and in place for that election!!!! Am I the only one that sees something wrong with that?
STOP WHINNING ABOUT INCUMBENT PROTECTION
And it is pure crap to whine about incumbent protection. The problem is the other party usually doesn't go through the effort to put up a candidate. If they do, even these districts can be competitive. Take the AD 21 race last November, for example. Apparently it was drawn to protect Democrats. But Democratic candidate Ira Ruskin - who I wholeheartedly supported - faced a tough challenge from Republican millionire Steve Poizner. Ira, in the end, with the help of grassroots organization - much of it due to the Santa Clara and San Mateo County DFA groups - won, with a 51-48 margin. Then, take Ohio's 2nd District and Paul Hackett. The reddest district in Ohio, they called it. Well, Paul Hackett almost won. I suggest that instead of whining about incumbent protection, you draw battle plans to take out the powerful incumbents that work against us, and that part of that plan be your candidates.
I am not saying there can't be reform measures put on the ballot that really make competitive districs, such as enforcing more requirements on the legislature itself when it draws these districts. But Prop 77 is a mockery of a proposition that might well result in chaos instead of anything productive. The power to draw the districts, in however restricted a form, must be left in the hands of the people's representatives, not unelected judges. It's not a matter of who wins and who loses as a result of redistricting. This is a question of Constitutional shift of power, and there is nothing to merit something that monumental. Let me tell you this: If I lived in Ohio, and Ohio's liberal supported redistricting measure were shifting the balance of power, I'd vote NO on that too.