From Peter Schrag’s Sac Bee column on the PPIC conference:
The implicit message here: Beware of excessive enthusiasm for political reform. It was a useful message for goo-goos to hear.
As to reforming the redistricting process, to quote Burton, ordinary people don’t “give a s—.” As Brown said, every legislator does what his or her constituents want â€“ not surprising since the current redistricting system allows members to, in effect, pick their constituents. But the constituents like that. And given the state’s political geography, the possibilities of creating many competitive districts are limited.Because the Legislature is apportioned according to population, not by voters, it’s more representative of that population than the statewide electorate. It has proportionately more Latinos and more urban liberals. It’s thus not surprising that California voters, who are still overwhelmingly non-Hispanic white, and are older and more affluent than the population, don’t fully trust the politicians that other people elect.
See more coverage of the event here.
And the reason the minorities are so numerous, why popular attitude shifts are not followed quickly by the assembling of new majorities, is that the legislators have quietly agreed between themselves to gerrymander districts in such ways that incumbents almost always win. In California, we have the extremely skillful gerrymanderer, Michael Berman, to thank for this embroglio. He has fashioned each redistricting in the interests of incumbent legislators and congressmen, taking away the right of the people to engineer partisan changes through attitude swings reflected in election results.