September 19, 2005

California Linking Rings

Hatched by Dafydd

Two great issues divide the most populous state in the Union. But they are inextricably linked together... and for those of us who support a California ruled by the people, not by professional liberals, it is vital that we win on both of them.

The first will also come to a head the quickest: the drive to take redistricting out of the clutches of the Democratic dominated legislature, which has gerrymandered the state so severely that the ordinary functions of democracy have been stifled. In the 2004 election, not one single seat in the legislature changed hands from Democrat to Republican -- or from Republican to Democrat. We remain encased in amber, like the hundred million year old mosquito in Jurassic Park.

The second great issue is longer term, and it will not be resolved this year; but it has a much greater potential to damage Western Civilization so severely it may never recover. That issue is the defense of traditional marriage from leftist suggestions for "improvement," such as "gender-neutral" marriage, polyamory, or the abolishing of marriage altogether.

Both of these issues will soon burst forth: the first in this November's special election, and the second in either the primary or the general election in 2006. And the two are linked, because it is the gerrymandered legislature, which has lost all fear of the electorate, which is trying to force same-sex marriage down our throats.

Not every blog has a focus, but some do: Power Line became the central blog in the Dan Rather-60 Minutes forgery; Captain's Quarters is the go-to blog for the news on Able Danger (and before that scandal broke, CQ was the blog of record for the Canadian parliamentary shenanigans); and of course, Patterico's Pontifications absolutely owns the Los Angeles Times -- or as he used to call it, the L.A. Dog Trainer.

Ordinarily, I'm not a "theme" guy; but these two issues are so important to me -- and to California, and I believe to our country -- that I will return to them again and again. So today, I only want to set the stage.

Note: This post is a rewrite of a Scaley Classic that was first posted on Patterico's Pontifications under the title Dafydd: Only a Brief Respite. It's longish, so read on only if you care anything about the culture you live in, you Philistine. (Not that I'm trying to load any guilt on you; if you don't care about anything, I'll just sit here in the dark and suffer. Oy.)

Traditional Marriage

Earlier this month, Gov. Schwarzenegger announced that he would veto the same-sex marriage bill, which had been greased through the legislature by the underhanded Democrats while real Americans were distracted by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. This gave the state some breathing room. But make no mistake: this is not victory for those who support keeping the traditional definition of marriage (that would be about 61% of the California electorate); it's only a brief reprieve.

His reason for the veto is not any heartfelt objection to same-sex marriage but rather the obnoxiousness of the legislature trying to enact same-sex marriage just five years after the electorate voted overwhelmingly to ban it. Proposition 22 passed with 61.4% of the vote; it read: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." Simple, direct, straightforward... but not to a leftist who knows better.

Schwarzenegger has since announced that he is running for reelection; but the odds that he'll win reelection in 2006 are at best 50-50; on the flip of a coin, the Democratic nominee may be the new governor.

California is not fundamentally a liberal state; but it's a split state with the Democrats stronger than the Republicans. And the California Republican Party is in such disarray -- probably the worst in the country -- that Democrats consistently win nearly all statewide offices. Arnold's win in the Davis recall election was a fluke; he was an outsider to California politics, and approval of the insiders was at its lowest ebb that I can recall since I was old enough to notice politics.

But now Schwarzenegger is an insider, too; add to that his abysmal job-approval numbers (unfair in my opinion, but my opinion is irrelevant), and the stage is set for the governorship to return to the party of Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi, unless Arnold can pull another Hasenpfeffer out of his hat.

The Democrats have made themselves clear: the moment one of them is in the governor's mansion, the state senate and assembly will immediately (possibly on the first day of the new session) approve same-sex marriage, and to hell with the voters. The bill will quickly be signed by the new Democratic governor. There will be a donnybrook in the courts; maybe we'll win... maybe we won't.

So for anyone who believes it's important to stop the recognition of same-sex marriage, it is now more important than ever before to enact a traditional definition of marriage into the state constitution in the 2006 election (primary or general, depends on when the initiative petitions are filed).

I will not here explain why same-sex marriage is so dangerous. But I will post an article this week to this site (and excerpt and link it on this blog) that argues, from a completely secular viewpoint, why traditional marriage must be preserved and must be the only form of legal relationship specifically approved by the state. Patience the way of the Jedi is!

That still will not protect us from the numerous "Thelton Hendersons" infesting the federal district courts in California and the 9th Circus Court of Appeals. For that, we need a strong and conservative Supreme Court ("conservative" in the sense of ruling on the basis of what the Constitution says, not what they wish it said). But a state constitutional amendment will protect us from rampaging state judges, who tend to be far more numerous and aggressively prejudiced than their federal counterparts.

There are three initiatives to protect the special status of traditional marraige that are in various stages of preparation; they will shortly go to the people for signatures and eventually, I hope, be placed upon the ballot. Two of them also ban (or at least discourage) so-called "domestic partnerships." There was a time when I supported domestic partnerships; but since the California Supreme Court ruled that the state had to treat such relationships exactly the same as marriage, I changed my mind. To the court, it's just marriage under another name. I argue my case here.

Proposition 77 - Fair Redistricting

It is also vital to change the redistricting rules to have the lines drawn not by the state legislature but by retired judges. This is the crux of Proposition 77, which has already qualified for the ballot in this November's special election. (State Attorney General Bill Lockyer -- a Democrat, of course -- pulled a dirty trick to force Propl 77 off the ballot; it took the state supreme court to overturn the unjust appellate-court decision and restore the people's right to vote on the initiative.)

Under ordinary circumstances, I would be on the other side; I don't like judges, even retired ones, intruding into the democratic process. Alas, the California state legislature is so mind-bogglingly partisan, patrician, and pandering, that we no longer have a democratic process in this state. The legislature is under the complete dominance of the Democrats... and they have used their majority to lock in the gerrymander to end all gerrymanders. It is currently impossible for the Republicans to make any gains, no matter how close the parties grow... and indeed, even if the Republicans were to become the majority party, the Democrats would remain the majority in the legislature -- and would therefore control redistricting in 2010, as well, allowing them to protect their gerrymander.

That is why the Democrats are so willing to spit in the faces of the California voters: they know they are immune. There is virtually nothing voters can do about them, because the election process itself has been rigged. So long as the Dems pander to their überleft base, Republicans are locked out. And the Democrats have shown, time and again, that whenever they have the power to draw the lines, they will gerrymander to the fullest extent.

Therefore, the power to redistrict must be taken out of the hands of the corrupt legislature. Paradoxically, we must shift it to the undemocratic decision of retired judges in order to restore democracy.

Anatomy of a Gerrymander

How does a gerrymander work? Simple example. Let's say a state has 1,000,000 residents. And let's say each resident either votes Democratic or Republican. 530,000 are registered Democrats, and 470,000 are registered Republicans. Assume 80% of each party always vote for their guy, while 20% of each comprises swing voters who might vote either way.

Now, this is a 53 to 47 split, fairly close; if there are ten districts, 100,000 residents each, you would expect to find 5 Democrats in the legislature, 4 Republicans, and one seat that is usually D but sometimes R. (Assume a unicameral legislature, just for simplicity.)

But check this out; the Democrats get a chance to redistrict, and they create the following districts:

  1. 69,000 Ds and 31,000 Rs;
  2. 69,000 Ds and 31,000 Rs;
  3. 69,000 Ds and 31,000 Rs;
  4. 69,000 Ds and 31,000 Rs;
  5. 69,000 Ds and 31,000 Rs;
  6. 69,000 Ds and 31,000 Rs;
  7. 69,000 Ds and 31,000 Rs;
  8. 15,000 Ds and 85,000 Rs;
  9. 15,000 Ds and 85,000 Rs;
  10. 17,000 Ds and 83,000 Rs;

Since 80% (loyal Democrats) of 69,000 is 55,200, which is 55.2% of the vote, the Ds are guaranteed to win 7 of the 10 seats, even if the 20% of swing voters defect. Whatever the Ds want passes the state legislature every single time... and they even have more than 2/3rds, enough to override the governor's veto, if they must. So a tiny advantage is converted into total and eternal domination, all by clever use of their redistricting powers.

Actually, it's even worse: suppose Democrats go absolutely off their rockers, and this results in the Republican Party growing stronger. Let's say that 5000 Democratic residents of each district convert to the Republican Party. Then each of the seven Democratic districts would have 64,000 Ds and 36,000 Rs, while each of the three Republican districts would have 10,000 Ds and 90,000 Rs (actually, one would have 12,000 Ds and 88,000 Rs, but that's not important).

In this case, Republicans would outnumber Democrats statewide by 520,000 to 480,000, almost the reverse of the first example... yet the Democrats would still control those same 7 out of 10 districts. This is exactly what happened in Texas, resulting in a strong majority of Republican voters -- but an equally strong majority of Democratic legislators. It took political dynamite (and a powder-monkey named Tom DeLay plus many years of fighting) to finally correct that ludicrous situation.

Although this is a simplified example, this is basically the situation we're in right now, except the Democrats don't quite have enough guaranteed seats to override a veto, thank goodness.

Thus, even though the Dems would still have a legislative majority under fair districts, it wouldn't be as overwhelming as it is now... and it would be much harder to enact insane, hard-left legislation, because there would be a lot more districts whose voters were moderate and could flip either way. Seats would flip from Democratic to Republican, and that itself will force moderation on the Democratic Party.

In most other states, I agree the legislature should draw the district lines; but when the majority proves itself to be functionally incapable of behaving in a democratic fashion, they should not have the power to predetermine the results of the very elections that are the only way to redistribute power. It's like electing a party whose main platform is to abolish all future elections; if you do it, you're sunk.

Linked Rings

The two quests are tied together, because if we don't fix the shattered redistricting process, we'll have to face the same challenges to traditional marriage over and over, every election cycle, ad nauseum. And if we allow same-sex marriage to be crammed down Californians' throats, then there will be such bitterness and disgust within the Republican base that many will just drop out of politics altogether (or move out of the state) -- which is exactly what the Democrats hope for. (I would say "pray for," but, you know -- Democrats are to prayer as Superman is to Kryptonite.)

We need unassailable victories on both fronts. We need to win both of these for the Gipper.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 19, 2005, at the time of 5:13 AM

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California is often so far ahead of the rest of the country, we may as well be on another planet. Fortunately, we're usually not the bellwether. (Curiously, twenty years ago, I wouldn't have characterized that as "fortunate." But that was... [Read More]

Tracked on July 6, 2006 6:00 PM


The following hissed in response by: RBMN

If you spend a lot of time in California, you begin to understand that vast numbers of "Californians" don't necessarily think of themselves as part of that thing over there, way out east somewhere, called the United States of America. Intellectually yes, but not on a visceral level. There's this United States thing, over there, and then there's Sweet Home California. So for "true Californians," these Republicans (conservatives,) are "foreigners" from "over there” in the U.S., and "WHO ARE THEY to tell us Californians how to live, and who cannot get married by the Mayor of San Francisco? Those Republicans (non-Californians) should just go back to Hayseed, Kansas, or wherever they came from, and leave us beautiful tolerant loving Californians the hell alone."

The above hissed in response by: RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2005 9:40 AM

The following hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel

Congratulations on a logical set of statements. I had considered that a set of contracts, like a power of attorney, would be allowable, but you have a valid point that the nut courts would ruin that for the rest of us.

The above hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2005 9:43 AM

The following hissed in response by: Brady Westwater

I fully agree with your views on reapportionment. I also believe in smaller government, and have been an active Republican since Barry Goldwater and I was the first person to volunteer at Spencer-Roberts when Reagan formed an exploratory committee to run for governor when I was still in high school.

But I firmly disagree with the social issues wing of the party on several issues for two reasons. First, as an example, while I would prefer domestic partnerships, the world will not end if gays are allowed to marry and share the same rights - and obligations - the rest of us do.

Right now, there is a clear inequity in the legal rights of those men and women who choose a life partner of the same sex. And no one who calls themselves a believer in the rights of individuals should believe that is just.

Second, it is going to happen anyway. Each generation is more supportive of these social issues, and that is not going to change. And making issues like gay rights and abortion litmus tests for GOP candidates will only ensure that we continue as the minority party in California.

Now if you diasgree with my viewpoints on these issues - fine - I don't expect you to support them just because they inevitable. But you also need to realize that making them the defining qualities of the Republican Party, ultimately will doom the party.

The above hissed in response by: Brady Westwater [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2005 11:11 AM

The following hissed in response by: Clint


I completely agree with you on redistricting.

And I completely disagree with you on marriage.
(Though I'll be interested to hear your reasoning, when you post it later.)

The above hissed in response by: Clint [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2005 12:20 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist


You might find the following snippet from STRATFOR interesting:

Geopolitical Diary: Monday, Sept. 19, 2005

There were a handful of elections this weekend. One, in Germany, was globally noted; another, in New Zealand, less so. It is hard to think of two more different democracies than Germany and New Zealand, but that is what makes the situation all the odder, because both countries went through roughly the same process and each election wound up in stalemate. In both cases, the dominant right-wing party seemed to have a distinct advantage, and in both, the dominant left-wing party closed the gap but could not take a decisive lead. The result was roughly a break-even, with parliamentary horse-trading being necessary to form a government.

Now, two is not a number from which to draw a trend -- but at the same time, two such different democracies having the same outcome in an election seems to us significant. Put broadly, Western democracy seems to be at a stalemate: On the one hand, the leftist, social democratic tendency seems to be deadlocked with the rightist, free-enterprise tendency. To some extent, anti-Americanism seems to be deadlocked with pro-Americanism. Both of these descriptions are far too broad and inaccurate to describe what is happening, but in general, it seems the main leftist and rightist parties have tied, with the ability to form governments resting in the hands of minority parties.

SNIP...There are three basic arguments under way in most advanced democracies:

1. How should we balance social interests -- unemployment, retirement, health care, etc. -- against the needs of economic development and dynamism?

2. What should be the role of social outsiders to the mainstream? What should be the position of Muslims, Maoris or Mexicans in society in general, and what role should government play in securing those interests?

3. What should the relationship of the state be to the United States, a global hegemon that can be neither ignored nor simply dealt with? This is an issue as much for the United States as for other nations. STRATFOR

That was just about the gridlocks in Germany and New Zealand, and STRATFOR wonders if it will France next, and even to the United States.


The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2005 12:38 PM

The following hissed in response by: Milhouse

Any boundaries that are drawn will result in anomalies, and any redrawing to eliminate those anomalies will only cause others. If you're worried about gerrymanders, the only real solution is to get rid of boundaries altogether, and introduce proportional representation. Not gimmicky PR with minimum levels, below which all votes get thrown out, but full-blown PR. If you get 1% of the vote, you get 1% of the seats, no matter whether your support is spread evenly over the state, or all concentrated in one neighbourhood.

(And that, by the way, is John Stuart Mill's answer to those who insist that localities need a representative who concentrates on the peculiar needs of that locality - if all the local residents really feel like that, then they can all vote for the same candidate, and he'll get in and represent them. Knowing that his support all came from the same area, he will function exactly like a local representative does now. The problem is when many people in your area don't agree with you on the need for local representation, and would rather vote for a large party list, if given the chance.)

The above hissed in response by: Milhouse [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2005 12:46 PM

The following hissed in response by: Nels Nelson

Though I understand how its immunity from the voters allowed the Legislature to recently vote as it did, I don't follow the connections made within your last paragraph.

Regardless of what happens with redistricting, wouldn't the easiest and most secure way to stop gay marriage be to pass a constitutional amendment through the initiative process? The U.S. Senate is full of Republicans, with red states disproportionately powerful per capita, and the FMA couldn't even get simple majority support from senators, despite about 2/3 of citizens favoring it in national polls. Legislators don't have our luxury of voting anonymously, and they don't like being branded as meanies.

And if gay marriage, against the wishes of the voters, were to win the support of a non-gerrymandered Legislature, why wouldn't Republicans just wait until the next election to pick representatives who made opposing gay marriage their core position? Is gay marriage so destructive, moreso than the host of other laws and programs that come out of the Legislature, that we cannot survive a couple of years until it is repealed through the democratic process?

The above hissed in response by: Nels Nelson [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2005 5:38 PM

The following hissed in response by: HelenW

Ddd writes: I argue my case [against Gay Marriage] here.

Well actually, you don't. However, should you feel the need to be de-panted, go right ahead. In every one of the debates I've joined, the case for governmental prohibition of same-gender marriages has been reduced to theocratic terms. You can't win.

However, I think Arny was right to veto, because he surely was representing the clear majority of his electorate. I hope they reward him with re-election.

To be utterly frank, I think most people would approve Lesbian Marriage. Gay men are the deal-breaker. Generally they are viewed as mentally, if not physically, ill. Unfortunately, they bare some responsibility for that perception.

The above hissed in response by: HelenW [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2005 6:00 PM

The following hissed in response by: Carolynp

I am one of those wackos that thinks that government should not be able to define marriage: a last Libetarian stronghold. I am, however, TERRIFIED of a legislature that ignores the voters and does whatever the heck it wants. The Oregon legislature made the exact same play recently. I hope the voters toss their cans out, every last one of them.

Brady: I think that abortion will eventually be known as the slavery of our time. Every argument in favor of abortion is a dusted off argument from slavery days. Our science is backing up the idea that those "nut-jobs" that thought that life begins at conception were right: at least as far as dna research is concerned.

The above hissed in response by: Carolynp [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2005 8:36 PM

The following hissed in response by: Mr. Davis

One of the great gambles in setting up the United States was that a republic could survive in a geographically large state. Until then all republics had been relatively small states. The solution was our federal system.

California has not had an unblemished record of governance. In the early century, it was the Southern Pacific that owned the government. Now it is the prison guards and teachers.

Perhaps the problem is not so much finding a better method of redistricting as making the state closer to the people by reducing its extent. It is not a coincidence that the other state with a major redistircting problem is Texas. Both states have gotten too big.

I recall (no link) that when Texas was admitted a provision was made for the breakup of Texas into five states. Perhaps both Texas and California should both be broken up into five states.

The above hissed in response by: Mr. Davis [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 20, 2005 7:23 AM

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