A Vote Against Ghost Voting
need to put forward a reason to vote for Proposition 77, which
would mandate that an independent judicial panel redraw the state's
legislative and congressional districts as soon as 2006, consider
Democratic state Sen. Carole Migden.
Migden was visiting the Assembly floor to push a pet bill. The
bill was in trouble, so she leaned across the desk of GOP Assemblyman
Guy Houston, who opposed the measure, and voted yes for him.
desk-mate changed the vote. Migden apologized. There, the ghost-voting
story melts away.
While do-good types
have suggested that Sacramento leaders should ban Migden from
the Assembly floor or, for greater effect, rob her of the chairmanship
of the big-clout Senate Appropriations Committee, Migden didn't
even get her hand slapped. A Migden aide explained, "Nothing
has occurred relative to that matter after the incident of the
apology." This is business as usual in the Capitol, and that
means: See no evil.
The whole episode
points out that cancer in Sacramento. It's not that the Legislature
is weighted too heavily with Democrats, but that it is over-weighted
with the worst Democrats. That is, Dems who have no respect for
the rules and no fear of the voters.
These Dems are so
out of touch that they recently passed a bill to legalize same-sex
marriage -- even though in 2000, 61 percent of voters elected
to ban same-sex marriage and, by law, only voters can overturn
that law. They're so out of touch that they passed a number of
bills to allow illegal immigrants to obtain California driver's
licenses. One such measure, passed in 2003, had absolutely no
safeguards to prevent immigrants with criminal records from obtaining
this gateway document.
When they realized
how angry voters were, lawmakers actually rescinded the worst
driver's license measure. If Californians were less safe, they
careers were in jeopardy, they did care. The fact that they passed
similar bills since then shows that they have no fear of losing
up with the worst Republicans, too.
That is, the ones
who will never vote for a tax increase, but also won't vote to
Even though they
are in the minority, they make a point of not talking to Democrats.
The result: budgets that don't control spending and don't provide
the revenue to pay for new programs.
In 2002, GOP Assemblyman
Keith Richman and Democrat Joe Canciamilla formed a group of lawmakers
willing to talk to each other. Known as The Bipartisan Group,
its core membership was eight -- out of 80 Assembly members, according
to a key aide. At times, the rump has had to meet at a lawmakers'
house, lest they be seen in the building talking to each other.
That's right -- they couldn't be seen doing their jobs.
Of course, some good
people win office, but they aren't in charge and they get lonely.
Because legislative and congressional districts are carved heavily
in favor of one party or the other, the candidates tend to be
far left or far right. GOP consultant Allan Hoffenblum explained,
"What happens in gerrymandering is, for the most part, they
(those drawing the lines) remove the November elections. ... Then,
the base of the parties tend to be dominant in determining who
the nominee is."
As the party bases
are more extreme than the general members, you get fewer moderates.
"The moderates are not even coming forward anymore. The thrust
of the campaign is, 'I'm more liberal,' or, 'I'm more conservative.'"
"There is not even a moderate Democrat attempting to win
in the 6th District," Hoffenblum noted of the Assembly district
currently occupied by Marin Democrat Joe Nation, who can't run
for re-election because of term limits. Why no centrist Dems?
Because moderates are less likely to win a primary in a weighted
Do I think this is
the best measure? Of course not. I think it's a mistake to put
the new map before the voters for approval, and I don't like the
cramped schedule the "special masters" -- the panel
of three retired judges picked by both Democrats and Republicans
to draw the lines -- will face.
That said, Proposition
77 beats the rigged districts drawn by craven politicians whose
first goal is to protect their re-election and second goal might
as well be to keep their parties completely out of touch with
So Migden felt free
to pull the lever of another elected official in a different legislative
body -- and there is no penalty.
In Sacramento, where
districts protect the most extreme and least scrupulous lawmakers,
in a town where lawmakers have to sneak around -- lest they be
seen talking to lawmakers from the other party -- rules were made
to be broken.
2005 Creators Syndicate