Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cali redistricting suits flop, warring parties, people, private sector?

*This article was originally published by the Viễn Đông on 2 November 2011. It was reported by Vanessa White.

SACRAMENTO, California— Since 1996, Democrats have been the majority in the State legislature.
They have been the majority representing California in Congress since 1992.
On 26 October 2011, the California Supreme Court rejected two Republican-backed lawsuits against maps the California Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC) drew for congressional and State districts.
The lawsuits over the CRC’s electoral maps provide for discussion about ongoing conflict between the Republican and Democrat parties.
The CRC was created in 2008 by a voter initiative and given the task of considering public comments while drawing congressional, Assembly, Senate, and Board of Equalization maps to be used in elections during the next ten years.
Though based on 2010 census data, the new maps were to adhere to the Voting Rights Act (VRA) which keeps minority votes from being diluted.
However, Republican-backed lawsuits filed in September 2011 accused the maps of diluting African American and Latino votes, as well as protecting incumbents, or lawmakers already in office.
Before the CRC, State lawmakers created their own districts, giving them the power to shape the borders that would keep them elected.
“The process got hijacked by political partisans along the way,” GOP spokesperson Mr. Mark Standriff was quoted in the Los Angeles Times, speaking about the CRC drawn maps.
He added that the current Republican-backed drive for a referendum on the CRC’s Senate districts would give voters a “chance to fix the maps.”
In order for the referendum to be placed on the June 2012 ballot, its backers need to gather 504,760 signatures by 13 November 2011.
Although it was believed districts drawn in 2001 would be used for June 2012 elections if enough signatures were gathered, the Los Angeles Times reported that the California Supreme Court will instead decide to either use the CRC drawn districts or draw their own.
If the referendums are placed on the 2012 ballot, voters would either vote “no,” requiring the California Supreme Court to use its temporary maps for the 2012 general election instead, or vote “yes” and use the CRC adopted maps for the 2012 general election.
A September 2011 Field Poll found that 42 percent of California voters would vote to keep the adopted Senate map, while 29 percent would vote to get rid of it, and 29 percent were undecided.
“The court just threw out the lawsuits, saying in effect that these [CRC’s] plans are legal,” Democratic political consultant who has specialized in redistricting Mr. Paul Mitchell was quoted in the Los Angeles Times. “It creates a sense that these plans pass legal muster.”
However, the referendum is pulling in financial support, like Mercury Insurance Chairman George Joseph’s $1 million contribution to the California Republican Party (CRP) leading the referendum effort.
An additional referendum opposing the CRC’s congressional districts was also being backed by Republicans; however, it did not gain as much support as the Senate referendum and is no longer a focus.
One home at war
Though the United States is a two-party government, there are critics who argue that it will offer the same result regardless of which party’s candidates are voted for. The system of government is in place to keep the country divided.
In the 2009 film, The Obama Deception, former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura called politics in America identical to professional wrestling.
“In front of the cameras and the public we all hate each other,” he said. “Yet behind the scenes, we all are friends, going out to dinner. It’s showbiz.”
Critics argue that the country is in a war between the people it is supposed to serve and the private, financial sectors running the government.
To draw voters in, candidates take hard stances to serve either the Democrat or Republican ideology. However, when elected their stance becomes more moderate, compromising, and at times reflecting more the opposite party’s ideals than their own.
For example, when former Republican President George W. Bush was in office, his policies expanded the federal government rather than aligning with the Republican ideology of a limited government.
President Barack Obama also went against typical Democrat ideology when he signed the Budget Control Act of 2011, also known as the debt deal, and allowed for massive spending cuts without the trade-off of raising taxes on wealthy people and corporations.
Though, both presidents did follow party lines with other policies, like President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is supposed to make health care more affordable for Americans.
Former President Bush’s signing of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which limits abortions, aligned with Republican ideology.
The polarized views both parties take on certain issues are enough to get people voting for ways to benefit themselves and their communities, pledging allegiance to one of the two parties.
Though, there are advocates for increasing the U.S. political system to include more than two-parties.
Mr. Ralph Nader, a consumer advocate and former Independent presidential candidate, has long been critical of the two-party government system.
“There will always be a least worst between the Democrats and Republicans, every four years, every two years,” Mr. Nader said in a speech in Washington D.C. after the 2004 re-election of former President George Bush. “You exert no pull on the least worst, therefore, your own influence and your own impact is self-limited.”
Thought to consider
Has your community experienced a difference in representation by the Democrat and Republican Parties?

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