Editorial - Room with a View

Room with a view: gerrymandering and independent redistricting commissions

Cartoon based on original gerrymandered district. Courtesy graphic.
Cartoon based on original gerrymandered district. Courtesy graphic.

Recently, our own Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-CA47) joined with Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA1) to introduce a resolution to the House of Representatives calling for the removal of political gerrymandering from congressional redistricting.

The supposed non-partisan redistricting commissions in Arizona and California are held up as exemplars, showing how well the proposed change works.

A resolution, not a piece of legislation

Their action was to introduce a resolution in contrast to a bill.

A resolution simply puts those voting on record as agreeing with the point made in the resolution, without taking any other action.

The resolution introduced by Congressmen Lowenthal and Fitzpatrick is H.R. 36. The only action taken was to send it to the House Committee on the Judiciary. In the new 116th Congress, Jerry Nadler (D-NY) chairs the Judiciary Committee and Doug Collins is the ranking Republican member.

Northwest Orange County experience with independent redistricting

Since California is held up as an exemplar of supposed non-partisan redistricting, we should trip down Memory Lane to before and after the redistricting required by the 2010 Census.

Before the most recent redistricting, northwest Orange County formed a coherent conservative bloc with a handful of elected representatives responsive to voters in the small towns. Representatives of elected officials regularly attended local meetings and kept such civic organizations as the local Chambers of Commerce well informed on legislative affairs.

After redistricting, the coherent conservative bloc’s political representation was shattered. Large chunks of Orange County were bitten off, to drown in larger pools of progressive voters in Los Angeles, Riverside, even San Bernardino Counties. More than twice as many elected officials represented the small towns mashed up against the Orange County border. The importance of constituents in these small towns was overshadowed by larger constituencies in larger towns like Long Beach, Huntington Beach, and Anaheim. Gradually, representatives from elected officials stopped showing up to brief civic groups.

The “blue wave” in Orange County that swamped everyone except Tyler Diep and John Moorlach arose partly from that redistricting. (Republican complacency also played its part.)

Congressman Lowenthal owes his own election to that redistricting. No wonder he thinks it’s wonderful.

For those small towns in northwest Orange County, the loss of political voice has been almost complete. It takes something like Warren Kusumoto’s ordinance exempting Los Alamitos from SB 54 to get anybody to pay attention — not that the attention received was the sort anticipated or desired. The loss of State Senator Janet Nguyen in one of the irritating trickle-counts last November was another dispiriting defeat. (I do not like the technique of “harvesting” votes. It is way too open to abuse. I also do not like election-day voter registration.)

High on the list of priorities for Travis Allen — or whoever is elected the next Chair of the California Republican Party — should be participation in the 2020 Census and oversight of the post-Census redistricting. We need to regain our voice in regional and State politics.

2 Comments

  1. Excellent commentary! Congressman Lowenthal owes his tenure entirely to gerrymandering. What a hypocrite. The last redrawing of California lines was completely hijacked by the state Democrats and they still have the nerve to suggest that it was a fair process.
    Thank you for mentioning voter harvesting. It is a travesty and needs to be openly discussed. I doubt many California voters are even aware of what it is. It is appalling that it is now legal. I would love to see an in-depth article explaining the process.
    Great work! Kudos to the OC Breeze for keeping us informed.

  2. Great analysis! It’s pathetic that so many Cypress residents are “represented” by the Nancy Pelosi parrot aka Alan Lowenthal. It is what it is … but the fact is that while Cong. Lowenthal is my representative, he does NOT represent me.

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