In a recent editorial, the Los Angeles Times has come out in favor of Proposition 11. The Times criticizes former California Speaker of the Assembly, for his support of the current redistricting method both in office and now as continuing influencial Democratic party member.
Willie Brown made it clear. Speaking in Denver two weeks ago, the former Assembly speaker told California Democrats gathered for the party’s national convention that they were duty-bound to keep their most important power — drawing legislative district lines. Defeating Proposition 11, Brown said, was almost as crucial as making sure Barack Obama was elected president, because whoever draws the lines decides who gets elected.
Brown could hardly have made the case in favor of Proposition 11 better if he’d tried. California gives political parties, rather than voters, enormous and unwarranted power over who gets elected to office now, two years down the road and another two to four years beyond that. That power comes in the form of “decennial redistricting,” two snooze-inducing words that stand for the ultimate king-making clout, currently vested in the Legislature and, by extension, the parties. State Democratic Party leaders use it to retain their margin in Sacramento, and both they and their Republican counterparts use it to plot the courses and careers of individual candidates. Raise enough money for us, they tell would-be politicians, and we’ll draw an Assembly district for you now and perhaps a Senate district that you can slide into when your term expires. Cross us, and we’ll draw a district that will never elect you.