Right Question

Asking the right question is usually more productive than trying to prove the right answer.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Schwarzenegger's Lasting Legacy?

This new poll (hat tip: Power Line) on Governor Schwarzenegger's latest round of ballot propositions this fall, looks very promising.

Proposition 77 would take legislative districting out of the hands of the legislature (leading to the obvious and inevitable positive feedback loop called "Gerrymandering" -- named for the notorious Elbridge Gerry and a roughly salamander shaped legislative district in 1812 Massachusetts) and into the hands of a non-partisan commission of retired judges. Although this is only likely to buy voters one or two generations before the commission is routinely packed with partisan hacks, and becomes an even harder problem to eradicate, this is still an enormous step forward. Hopefully, the example of California will shame other states into enacting such policies over the next couple of decades.

Governor Schwarzenegger is again showing us that he well understands California's nearly unique system of ballot Propositions which allows an energetic governor to make an end run around the legislature and get his initiatives passed directly by the voters. Using this to clean up the redistricting process is an unsexy, technical-detail sort of reform that will have a profound impact on decades of California legislatures (and U.S. Congressional representation as well). We will probably never really know what legislative measures it will forestall, and what measures it will have made possible, but this is probably the Gubernator's single most important initiative, and the one that could never have come from a mainstream candidate of either party. It's exactly the sort of initiative he was elected to champion.

Bravo, Governor Schwarzenneger.


Blogger Fargus... said...

Would he be championing this initiative if it were a Republican majority in the California legislature?

10:42 AM, October 07, 2005  
Blogger clint said...

Reasonable question. I'd say Schwarzenegger isn't particularly partisan, and probably would (legislative obstructionism being equal). Certainly, his proposal isn't particularly popular among Republican legislators, who also have "safe" districts.

It probably wouldn't seem so important to him were the state legislature not quite so antagonistic to the Governor's proposals.

But in politics the right thing often gets done for the wrong reason (because it's popular with the voters, because that PAC donated money, . Trying to read minds and judge motivation is a job I'll leave to historians -- I'll cheer when the right thing gets done, regardless of why.

(I think there's a famous quote to the effect that we should all cheer when the right thing gets done, even if it's done for the wrong reason. The right thing gets done so infrequently in this world that we have no cause to be particular when it does. -- Possibly Heinlein... but I can't find the reference at the moment.)

8:25 PM, October 07, 2005  

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