Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell which is which.
I haven’t commented on the effort to form a California Citizens Redistricting Commission because I applied to serve thereon. Now that I have been dinged from the list of applicants, I feel free to make a couple of points.
First, you should know that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Barbara Boxer and the California Democratic Party oppose the commission, which is intended to take electoral district reapportionment out of the hands of the self-serving Legislature.
Falling in line with the Democrats are the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Asian-American Pacific Legal Center. This establishment solidarity is enough to show the commission is a good idea.
Regarding my personal situation: Two of the three panelists who evaluated my application said simply that there were more qualified applicants. The third cited a specific reason, which – I am free to suspect – was the clincher. The panelist said I wasn’t conversant with the California Voting Rights Act.
Let me disabuse you of any idea that this piece of legislation has anything to do with the right to vote. It seeks to redress an assumed “dilution” of the votes of members of certain “protected classes.” In short, it’s a kind of electoral affirmative action.
In this context, the following section of the application clearly was a test of political orthodoxy: “Please describe your appreciation for California’s diverse demographics and geography. … You may include with this description any occupational, academic, volunteer or other life experiences you have had that demonstrate this appreciation.”
Here’s a portion of my answer, which I’m sure the panel viewed as a deal-breaker: “… Although many have abandoned the concept of the ‘melting pot,’ I have not. … The redistricting commission must recognize the contributions of various groups, but its purpose should not be to produce ethnic or cultural voting districts. It should craft boundaries that comport with geographical imperatives and communities of economic interest. Efforts to divide the state by race or culture would lead ultimately to a tribal society, with pernicious strife among racial, ethnic, religious and linguistic groups. This could foster divisive, splinter-group politics that would be much to the detriment of the state as a whole. For an example of the deleterious effects of tribal politics one need only look to Iraq or Afghanistan.”
I didn’t bother to note that California already is a victim of tribal politics.
The purpose of the Citizens Redistricting Commission is to draw equitable political boundaries rather than incumbent-protection lines. It may yet accomplish this, but rest assured, the members of this body will be required to bow at the altar of diversity.
Incidentally, the California Voting Rights Act, enacted by the Democrat-controlled Legislature and signed into law by then-Gov. Grey Davis, was described as an expansion of “voting rights granted under the federal Voting Rights Act.” The California act, among other things, granted “standing to groups who are too geographically dispersed to elect their candidate of choice from a single member district. This eases the path for proportional voting systems to be used as remedies for minority vote dilution.”
We’re constrained to point out the “expansion” goes way beyond the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, which mandated: “No person acting under color of law shall fail or refuse to permit any person to vote who is entitled to vote under any provision of this Act or is otherwise qualified to vote, or willfully fail or refuse to tabulate, count and report such person’s vote.”
The federal law enforced the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, which says, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
Note there is no mention either in the amendment or the 1965 law of “protected classes” or “proportional voting.” California’s law institutionalized the Democratic Party’s plantation mentality.
Bill Clinton tells the truth about himself! It was inadvertent, but Clinton did it anyway at Sen. Robert Byrd’s funeral. Apologizing for Byrd’s “fleeting association” with the Ku Klux Klan (OK, “fleeting association” was a lie), the former president said, “(Byrd) was a country boy from the hills and hollows of West Virginia. He was trying to get elected.” In other words, no moral compromise is out of bounds if you seek political power. Thanks for making your values clear, Bubba.