Posts Tagged ‘california’

California voters can strike a blow for moderation in politics by passing Proposition 14 in Tuesday’s primary election

June 6, 2010

Do you think President Bush knew about the 9/11 attack in advance, but allowed it to happen in order to advance his and Vice President Cheney’s secret pro-big oil agenda? If so you’re not alone. You and many other Democrats are the people that Democratic candidates target in primary elections. Congratulations.

Do you think President Obama was born in Kenya and is secretly a Muslim, striving to outlaw pork and introduce socialism in America? You and many other Republicans are the people that Republican candidates target in primary elections. Congratulations.

Are you sick about American political life being controlled by wild-eyed extremists. You and many other moderates are the people that California ballot Proposition 14 targets. You have a chance to turn politics back to the people who are trying to solve America’s problems without demonizing members of the other party.

Proposition 14 would change California’s primary election process. It would end separate primaries for each party and make all candidates run in a single primary, with the two candidates receiving the greatest number of votes moving on to the general election ballot regardless of party preference.

This would have a profound effect on the outcomes because candidates would necessarily try to appeal to independent voters and members of the other party, in addition to voters of their own party. (more…)


Can the center hold? Can America be governed?

February 21, 2010

Sunday, time for poetry. From Irish poet William Butler Yeats(1865-1939)


…Things fall apart; the
centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed

upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide
is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of
innocence is drowned;

The best lack all
conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate

We’ve written here about the destructive effect of gerrymandering in California, where every legislative seat is safe for the incumbent party: challenge can only come from within the incumbent’s own party. What’s true in California is true for the nation. The respected Cook Political Report sets the number of competitive seats at 50 out of a total of 435. The other 385 members are immune from an attack from the opposite party. Republicans need only appeal to the extreme right to get another term, while Democrats need only appeal to the extreme left.

As a result, “the people’s business is not being done,” to quote retiring Senator Evan Bayh. Our representatives in Washington are failing us, not only politically, but ethically as well. They promised to carry out the people’s business, but they are choosing to look first to their own job security. Non-partisan redrawing of district boundaries, as in Iowa and as proposed for California, would solve the problem, but that’s a long way off.

But in the meantime was Yeats right? Can the center hold? Not as long as the best lack all conviction. If you’re in the center you need a large dose of passionate intensity. And so do our centrist politicians—especially those in “safe” seats. And our President.

California Democrats: at a new ethical low and digging furiously

February 16, 2010

The Los Angeles Times reports that California Assembly Speaker Karen Bass and “more than a dozen Congressional Democrats” have donated $160,000 to a campaign for a voter initiative to overturn Proposition 11. That’s the 2008 initiative that gave a nonpartisan commission the power to set state legislative district boundaries.

Up to now California legislators have designed their own districts (like the California 38th congressional district shown above) to maximize their job security. In effect they choose their voters, instead of the voters choosing their legislators. Result: In California in 2008, every incumbent running for reelection won—51 congressmen, 9 state senators, and 52 assemblymen. And only nine seats have changed parties in 648 California legislative and congressional races in the last four election cycles (2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008) combined. Or looking at it like a betting person, the incumbent party has a 981/2 percent chance of holding on to each seat. Stalin and Mao would have been impressed.

The current system ensures dysfunctional politics. Legislators get a free ride in general elections. They need only win in their primary. So the Democrats appeal to the far left, the Republicans to the far right, and they all get reelected. The vast majority of voters and the non-voters? They get bad government.

The people mustered a 51-49 majority to fix the system with Prop. 11. The politicians are clawing back for their own selfish interests.

Shame on them.

Read The Ethics Challenge: Strengthening Your Integrity in a Greedy World