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Why Flash Is Wrong, Wrong, Wrong on Redistricting

Aug19

For California’s crybaby Republicans, the only fair redistricting plan would be one that sustains their phantasmagorical belief in their own ascendancy, popularity and influence.

After endlessly complaining about the unfairness of life under Democrat-run gerrymanders, the GOP in 2008 enthusiastically latched onto baby daddy ex-Governor Schwarzmuscle’s campaign for an independent body to redraw the state’s political maps. Under terms of the successful measure, Republicans were granted equal representation with Democrats on the new 14-member redistricting commission.

Now, despite being favored by the commission’s partisan false equivalence, which skewed the numbers of the state’s actual voter registration, GOP types  wail to the heavens that the just-released plan, based on the process that they endorsed, is discriminatory, dishonest  and (sniff) just not fair, darn it.

Exhibit A: The hissy fit pitched by our pal Jon Fleischman this week over at Flashreport, where he thundered about the over-arching, Save the Republicans Republic importance of staging a referendum campaign to undo the commission’s work on state senate districts, a don’t miss column that makes Flash the hands-down winner of the Jayson Blair Little Pulitzer Award for Organic Delusional Syndrome Reporting.

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Past is prologue: Put aside the fact that when Prop. 11, which created the new redistricting system, was on the ballot, Fleischman couldn’t gush enough about it.

On second thought, don’t put it aside.

On Oct. 23, 2008, less than two weeks before the election, the Flash rallied Republican support for the measure, writing that supporting the reform initiative was “one of the most important votes that any conservative in this state can cast.”

In a post headlined, “Vote Yes on Prop 11 – Custom Made for GOP Gain,” he  assured his right-wing readers that:

As a conservative leader, I couldn’t have written a measure better designed to increase Republican numbers in the legislature…

More:

That’s right – despite all of the rhetoric of misguided Prop. 11 supporters, who somehow believe that this measure will end partisanship in Sacramento – it will not.  But what it will do is add more Republicans into the mix, giving us more votes to stop spending increases, tax increases and the growth in government that we have seen at the hands of the liberal Democrats who control the institution. 

Since Calbuzz is nothing if not fair and balanced, we note in hindsight defense of Jon that he could not have known that by the time the new districts arrived, they’d be complemented by a new, wide-open primary election system that could doom his fond, YAFer hopes for ever-tighter gridlock triggered by evermore bitter partisan warfare.

But still.

The three fallacies of Jon: Now that the “custom-made for GOP gain” plan has arrived, creating a landscape that includes an increase in the number of competitive legislative districts, Flash has changed his tune and, as Tom Meyer illustrates above, today wants redistricting to be thrown into the courts (not surprisingly, given that all six of the justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court were appointed by Republicans), which is the aim of his referendum.

The lamentation about why the cosmic unfairness of the current lines requires a referendum boils down to three points:

1-The new senate lines could result in Republicans losing their ability to obstruct the possibility of any tax increases, ever, for anything, regardless of how voters might feel about it:

In my opinion, the State Senate maps as drawn virtually guarantee that Republicans in the upper chamber will no longer represent over a third of the total Senate membership, and thus will quickly lose much of their current relevance to the legislative process.

Earth to Flash: With their current anti-everything platform, California Republicans are well on their way to Whigdom. Last time we checked, statewide GOP registration was 30.88%; by what possible stretch should  Republicans feel entitled to one-third of  senate seats, when they can’t even register one-third of California voters?

2-GOP incumbents got really, really screwed.

The bill of particulars in the Fleischman indictment of the new districts includes specific concerns about incumbent GOP senators who suddenly face tough re-election prospects:

Senator Sam Blakeslee is a “redistricting victim” with his current Republican-leaning Central Coast seat vaporizing before his eyes.

Huh. And all along we thought Prop. 11 was supposed to bring about political districts that belong to the voters, not the politicians – you know, “our districts,” not “his district.”

Flash goes on to bemoan the fate of Senator Tony Strickland, a chief political enforcer of way-right, ideology inside the GOP caucus:

In 2008, Strickland was elected to a slightly better district than the one in which he would seek re-election, and he was barely elected with over $5 million spent on his behalf.  And it is worth noting that Strickland was THE target in 2008 — in 2012 he would have to share the spotlight, and the resources, with (other endangered Republicans).

Let’s recall that race: In 2008, “Landslide Tony” was elected by exactly 857 votes out of 415,109 cast.

The bottom-line for his win: his predecessor in the seat, now-U.S. Representative Tom McClintock, succeeded in 2001 in convincing state senate  leaders to give him a few more Republican voters, after the first draft of the districts then circulating made him fear he could lose re-election.

The architects of the 2001 Incumbent Protection Act redistricting plan  accommodated McClintock, adding a little slice of conservative Santa Clarita, in L.A. County, onto the bottom of the Santa Barbara-Ventura county 19th SD.

Surprise, surprise, that’s exactly where then-Assemblyman Strickland eked out his 2008 win over ex-Assembly member Hannah Beth Jackson. (Given his near-death experience against a Democrat only slightly to the right of Fidel Castro, you would think Strickland in office might have made some effort to listen to the concerns of the 50% of the voters who opposed him; instead, he  promptly joined Senate GOP’s Grover-bot thug caucus. But we digress).

In other words, Strickland won the seat precisely because of gerrymandering, and now Flash is beside himself because Taliban Tony will no longer be  protected by gerrymandering.

Again, we’d have to check the clips to be sure, but we’re fairly certain that was the whole point of the commission: crafting districts in which voters select representatives in the place of districts where politicians select the voters.

3-Corporate interests and their lobbyists don’t seem to understand that the new districts could threaten the status quo in Sacramento:

Flash again:

That having been said, we have the curious case that many business-oriented “third house” PACs seem to be quite opposed to the referendum.  In talking to some of them, there is a hesitancy to give (to the referendum) campaign because of the unpredictable outcome.  There is no iron-clad guarantee that the court-drawn Senate lines will be better, and the lobbyists in Sacramento have bosses to do not much like the idea of spending large amounts of money without a guaranteed improvement.

Here’s an alternate theory: Maybe business interests aren’t interested in joining a rear-guard action on redistricting because it’s bad for business.

Maybe their reluctance has less to do with an “unpredictable outcome” of the initiative and more to do with the fact that the fruits of Republican obstructionism over the last decade have been declining schools, more debt, deteriorating infrastructure and a world class university system that’s quickly becoming second-rate.

Maybe businesses actually understand that their economic self interest is better served by a government that’s not too hobbled by partisanship to provide decent public education, public health, public transportation, public recreation and water delivery systems and services.

If we recall our U.S. history, the whole notion of using tax dollars for the government to help build and sustain the private sector goes back to the administration of Abraham Lincoln, who we heard had something to do with starting the Republican party.

The Republican-dominated Congress passed a series of measures that transformed the nation’s economic landscape for all time. The weakness of the northern Democratic minority and the defection of southern lawmakers enabled Republicans to enact a legislative agenda that significantly expanded the role and financial reach of the government and helped to create a national economy that dwarfed its predecessor both in scale and in wealth.

You could look it up.


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There are 9 comments for this post

  1. avatar doughnut70 says:

    I think you will find that government spending to help sustain the private sector goes back to George Washington with the first significant proponent being Henry Clay who although he eventually lost the battle to Andrew Jackson was able to use his influence in Congress to create programs taking funding from new land that was sold in the west and using that for developing an infrastructure in the existing states. When he ran for President, Clay wanted to expand the program to stop all settlers from getting land in the west and instead to auction it all with the proceeds going to colleges, roads and medical care in the east.

    • avatar pjhackenflack says:

      The big difference was scale. Pre-Lincoln government efforts were sectional: his administration and GOP Congress help transform the Union into a national economy – through land grants for railroads, telegraphs, federal bond issues, central banking and defense industry producing goods for a large army, etc..

  2. avatar tonyseton says:

    It seems unlikely that your Fleish-Pal will let facts to stand in the way of his opinion.

  3. avatar chrisfinnie says:

    I’m with Calbuzz! Republicans in Sacramento are not relevant the legislative process in Sacramento because they refuse to participate. Like the new TP class in DC, they only have one solution: Cut spending. This is the cure for all ills. Only problem is, it isn’t. And voters may be starting to catch on. This leads to the declining GOP numbers in the state.

    Really, there’s another few reasons they’re increasingly irrelevant:
    1. They listen to lobbyists and big donors, but not to voters. See the GOP congressmen who are charging constituents for access to their august personages.
    2. They have amply demonstrated they don’t really care if we all die in the gutters. This is usually an unpopular stance with voters, especially those in real danger of doing exactly that–and relatively soon.
    3. They have no new ideas. As I pointed out earlier, their incessant chorus of cut, cut, cut is not only starting to imperil programs people actually like, value, and need–but we’ve already tried it. Remember George W. Bush? It didn’t work. Unemployment skyrocketed, the economy cratered, and we had to bail out businesses right and left to keep it from getting worse. So, because of that, we should do it again? Really?
    4. They are demonstrably insane. See above.
    5. Every time they get more power, they prove how absolutely awful they are at actually governing. See #3. Lots of people have said this. But it bears repeating. Never elect anybody to run the government if they think government is useless or outright bad. It is in their self interest to prove their theory right by destroying it.

  4. avatar patwater says:

    Re: “Maybe businesses actually understand that their economic self interest is better served by a government that’s not too hobbled by partisanship to provide decent public education, public health, public transportation, public recreation and water delivery systems and services.”

    Infrastructure is a good example of the sheer stupidity of our current paralysis. Interest rates are at historic lows for T-Bills and MMD. We need roughly $2 T in investment in roads, bridges, water utilities, etc. etc. (http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/fact-sheet/roads) And the housing crash means that there’s a dearth of construction jobs; ergo we can build that infrastructure cheaply.

    And looking at history, this investment would be about as close to a free lunch as you can get: “The Hoover Dam and its associated power and irrigation projects cost $165 million in 1933 dollars and created 16,000 jobs at the height of the Depression. Interest charges during construction were $17 million. Total cost was $1.25 for every man, woman and child in America, which Dr. Cochrane would dismiss as interfering with free enterprise and stealing jobs and capital from the private sector. In reality, the dam cost citizens nothing: the $1.25 actually represents a collective (oops…nasty socialist word) investment by the entire citizenry. In less than 50 years, the dam paid itself off by selling water and power with a 100% profit and continues to generate over $400 million a year from selling electricity.” http://somewhatlogically.com/

    That’s not to mention the fact that the Hoover dam makes, you know, just OUR ENTIRE LIFE IN THE SOUTHWEST AS WE KNOW IT POSSIBLE. The fact that such a clear win is unthinkable in todays political environment is an embarrassment. And speaking as a member of the younger generations (you know the ones that have to live with the consequences of losing the future), its pretty f-ing annoying.

    I should note it’s not just the reeps. The unwillingness to dream big about our state / nation’s future is bipartisan.

    Nothing to get depressed about though. Just means we need a new politics.

    • avatar chrisfinnie says:

      You tell ‘em patwater! You’re soooo right about the investments we need in the state and in the country.

  5. avatar Adelaides Lament says:

    Fleischman and the other repubs who are whining about the outcome of redistricting are just one more example of the way their whole party is operating these days. They’re gung-ho for whatever they think will stack the deck in their favor but when reality gets in the way, they say “hey, let’s make up some new facts!” The teabaggers exemplify this perfectly. All they do is wave the constitution and talk about their rights – but then, again, there are some items in that constitution that interfere with their plans so, at the same time, they’d like to return to the 19th century and repeal a whole bunch of those pesky amendments.

    • avatar chrisfinnie says:

      LOL! “A foolish constancy is the hobgoblin of small minds, clerics and divines” as Emerson says. But you have nicely demonstrated that a foolish inconsistency is just as silly.

      Rachel Maddow had a segment on Friday night about how Republicans are for stuff until Democrats say they’ll do it. Then they’re against it. It is truly mind-boggling.

  6. avatar tegrat says:

    “democracy” is simply not in the Republican lexicon anymore. We are very fortunate that at least in our state they are whining themselves into oblivion and irrelevance, as the damage they have inflicted on us with their irrational ideology is damn near the point of no return.

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