Friday, August 30, 2013
Is Gerrymandering Unconstitutional?
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion, an on Application of the Legislature or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence. [U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section 4]If the boundaries of the districts represented by the members of a State Legislature have been drawn to favor the election of a political faction or ethnic or other faction to a create a majority of members who favor the particular faction or group instead of a majority of the entire body of voters, then the Legislature is not truly representative of the population. I assert that such a State does not have a "Republican Form of Government," and that under the federal Constitution, the federal government is obligated to correct the situation. I suggest that Attorney General Holder undertake to carry out this responsibility by examining the legislative districts of such States as Texas and Pennsylvania, to say nothing of Michigan, Ohio, and others. According to my reading of the Constitution gerrymandering of legislative districts violates the Fourth Article.
Sunday, August 04, 2013
The Dance Goes On
Today our national legislature, or at least one part of it, is paralyzed because of its inability to find compromises between two very different ideologies. An ancient model occurs to me: the conflict between Athens and Sparta in Greece. The Athenians believed in democracy - well, sort of, even though their slaved didn't take part in it. The Spartans believed in the disciplined life, in which military type obedience was expected of every citizen.
The Athenians practiced and enjoyed literature, art, philosophy, and other amenities of the comfortable life. The Spartans practice stoicism, bearing the burdens and pains of life without complaint. The Spartans had no time for such "bleeding heart" sentiments as caring for the disables. If a woman gave birth to a crippled or otherwise disabled child, that child was killed. One story I recall is that crippled babies were thrown down from a high hill.
This reminds me of the two dominant ideologies in our Congress: liberalism and conservatism. Modern liberals advocate measures to support the less fortunate citizens, care for those who are sick or disabled, and tolerance of diverse viewpoints about anything and everything. Modern conservatives advocate a society in which each person pulls his own weight and the unfortunate, sick, injured, and disables are left to fend for themselves as well as they can. The conservative belief is that providing any form of government (i.e., social) assistance for the unfortunate simply discourages hard work, looking for and taking jobs that don't pay well or involve strenuous effort or dangerous working conditions, and living a healthy life style. In other words, the conservative believes that each person gets what he or she deserves. If you're poor you didn't work hard or save enough money. If you're fat, you ate too much of the wrong kind of food. Forgiveness and generosity is absent in the strictly conservative viewpoint.
Anyway, that's my rant for the day. Comments, please!
Saturday, August 03, 2013
45th Assembly District of California
California has 80 members in the State Assembly and 40 in the State Senate. The State has more than 50 Congressional representatives, each with a population of about 700,000, more or less. I guess that the Assembly districts have populations of about 400,000. My point is that in California these districts are big. The United States has the second largest representative districts of any democracy. The largest districts are in India.
Our member of the Assembly, Bob Blumenfield, has resigned from the Assembly after being elected as a member of the Los Angeles City Council. The term limits are more generous in Los Angeles than in the State at large. Members of the Assembly are limited to six two-year terms per life time. City Council members are limited to twelve years. Mr. Blumenfield would have completed the sixth year of his membership in the Assembly if he had stayed until the end of his current term in 2014.
The district is considered a very safe district for Democrats. This area has not elected a Republican Assemblyman or a Republican Congressman for more than 20 years. There is a special election to be held in September to choose a replacement for Mr. Blumenfield and about six or more Democrats are actively campaigning for it. It struck me that the California Primary Election law gives Republicans a chance to steal the seat. It would work this way: Let only two Republicans campaign. There are so many Democrats in the race that they would split the Democratic vote among themselves. The two Republicans might turn out to be the biggest vote getters. Therefore, they would be the two candidates on the ballot in the run-off election, to be held later in the year.
Such an insane result could only happen in Dipsy-doodle California.