January 31, 2005
Some Responses to My Posts on the California Constitutional Problems with Linking Term Limits and Redistricting
There just is a real problem with that logic. If you can't link A and B, often you get neither. You just get the status quo. I won't give you A if you won't give me B.
I have the same trouble with item vetoes. I think--though I am unaware of empirical confirmation--that item vetoes do not really make the executive more powerful (as is often assumed). I think they simply make the status quo safer.
I am no fan of direct democracy, but please tell me we have not so restrained it judicially that the status quo trumps any chance politically for a potentially rather large majority to approve a package of reforms to the election process.
John Gear writes:
(The exception proves the rule: pro-choice GOP Rep. Joe Schwartz, new member of Congress, "won" his primary with 28% of the vote, with all six "Stop Joe" opponents foolishly splitting the vote rather than deferring to one another. A perfect case for the use of instant runoff voting, but an example of how dysfunctional the system is ... the winner was opposed by 72% of his own party but, thanks to bulletproof gerrymandering, was unstoppable once nominated.)
The state overall leans D but the US House delegation is 9-6 R-D, and both state houses are R dominated, tribute to the skill of the gerrymander artists.
However, for just one example of the bizarre consequences, the Speaker of the House is a 34 year old with two years legislative experience. The folks in Lansing are chafing under term limits, but they are finding that they are still insanely popular (with the Rs finding that the monster they created was easier to unleash when the Ds had long been in control than it is to get back under control).
My thinking has been that there is only one subject here: competitive elections. Term limits were a ham-handed and wrongheaded approach -- but they were devised in response to a very real problem (totally uncompetitive elections that verge on fraudulent).
I would (and am) arguing that the only way to get people to agree on backing off from term limits is to ensure that we don't get a return to the status quo of soviet-style elections with 99% incumbent reelection rates, and that is only possible by taking control of redistricting away from the legislature. They may not be one subject in a law school text but they are absolutely a single subject (competitiveness in elections) in the real world.
Thanks for writing!
Posted by Rick Hasen at January 31, 2005 09:12 PM