Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Daniel on the airwaves

Today I was broadcast on KQED Public Radio, which is heard by thousands of people in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento, and all over the SF Bay Area.

For KQED's series called Perspectives, I read a two-minute piece I wrote about re-districting reform that was based on one of my previous blog posts.

You can listen to the entire piece in streaming audio in the KQED Perspectives Archive here.

Below is the transcript of what I read, which I think is an improvement on my original post:

In the last film of our governor's previous career, the only thing that could kill a terminator was another terminator. It now appears that the only thing that can solve the ills of direct democracy is direct democracy itself.

Propositions and recalls proliferate in our state because Californians don't trust the legislature to get things done. Here's why. Legislators decide where voting district lines are drawn. Naturally, they pick and choose populations they know will vote for their party. This is called gerrymandering. So what we end up with is a bunch of strictly Democratic or strictly Republican districts.

Since it’s a foregone conclusion which party is going to win each district, the real battle is in the primary, where politicians only have to appeal to the party base to win. They don't need to moderate their positions. This gives us a polarized legislature of left-wing Democrats and right-wing Republicans, which doesn’t accurately represent most Californians who are proudly centrist. It's no wonder the legislature can't get anything done. And it's no wonder Californians have to go through the flawed initiative process to accomplish anything. Think about the last regular election for governor. Richard Riordan, a moderate Republican, could have easily defeated Gray Davis, but couldn't get past the right-wing Bill Simon in the primary. The moderate Schwarzenegger could only win because he skipped the primary entirely, through the recall.

Some of Schwarzenegger’s ideas are good and would have been tried already if we didn't have such a polarized government. But he's getting so much flak from the entrenched unions , that he’s getting nowhere.

So Californians who care about reform need to focus not on the symptoms of the problem, but the cause. We need to fix redistricting and kill gerrymandering. The governor’s upcoming initiative has retired judges, insulated from political pressures, drawing the district lines. If Schwarzenegger can accomplish this one reform, it will do more good for California’s future than any number of other reforms. In general, recalls, initiatives and other direct democracy measures lead to half-baked, policies. But through the recall-spawned Schwarzenegger and his re-districting initiative, direct democracy could actually eliminate the need for itself by establishing a functional government that is bi-partisan instead of bi-polar. Like the gift that keeps on giving, fixing re-districting would be the reform that keeps on reforming.

With a perspective, I’m Daniel Sanchez.


At 4:32 PM, Blogger Saheli said...

Dude, I wish you had let us know you were going to do that! :-p congratulations. :-)


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