California Politics

CALIFORNIA POLITICS….When it comes to the California recall, Hugh Hewitt sure does like blogs:

The blogs continue to outperform print and electronic media, with Kausfiles and Dan Weintraub having set a standard of relevance and timeliness that the dinosaurs can’t begin to hope to match….[Blogs] provide everything the interested reader needs to know, and do so hours if not days before AM catches up. (AM = ancient media.)

Can we get serious, Hugh? I like blogs too, but with the exception of the 1977 Oui interview ? hardly the shining high point of recall reporting ? practically everything reported by blogs is taken from the much maligned AM in the first place. Hugh may feel that the mainstream media isn’t paying enough attention to the issues he wants them to pay attention to, but everyone feels that way, don’t they? Bottom line: blogs can serve an excellent role in highlighting issues and rounding up news on a topic, but if you want to know the basics of what’s going on, AM has the story hours if not days before the blogs do.

(And anyway, if you’re going to be a blog triumphalist, shouldn’t you at least have permalinks and archives?)

On the other hand ? and this may seem a bit odd ? I think he’s got a point with this:

The underlying story of the recall remains largely unexplored by all media, new and old. That story turns on these questions: Is the California legislature churning out a large number of new and very radical statutes, judging by the standards at work in the other 49 states? Does the California legislature appear to have even a minimal grasp on economics, or does it seem to act as though there is no such thing as a business climate? Do special interests dominate Sacramento to an extent unparalled in other state legislatures, with the result that enormously unbalanced legislation is arriving on Gray’s desk (and has been for five years) without the ordinary moderations enforced by two-party rule?

Now, I’m not sure this is actually the underlying story of the recall, but it is one of the underlying stories of the state and it deserves attention. However, the problem is not, as Hugh seems to imply, that California is a monoculture Democratic state ? lots of states have governors and legislatures of the same party ? and it’s not a problem that suddenly cropped up five years ago when Gray Davis got elected. It’s a problem caused by too many inexperienced, highly ideological legislators on both sides of the aisle who have no reason to ever compromise on anything.

We could do two things that would go a long way toward solving this problem:

  • Extend term limits from 6 years to 12. This would still prevent people from making careers out of politics but would provide a more experienced legislature that understands the issues better, understands the legislative process better, is less dependent on lobbyists and staff, and builds better relationships across party lines.

  • Provide for nonpartisan redistricting based on some fairly stringent rules that prevent gerrymandering. This might or might not change the balance of the legislature (it would still be heavily Democratic no matter what), but it would eliminate many of the non-compromising extremists from both parties who are currently electable only because they live in ultra-safe, highly gerrymandered districts.

Back to you, Hugh.

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