LOS ANGELES TIMES CARTOON: Dumbistan

Dumbistan

Silicon Valley zillionaires feel entitled. They like to get everything their way. They order off the menu. Steve Jobs, who famously parked across two handicapped spaces, prompted a note riffing on Apple’s famous advertising slogan: “Park different.” So it was bound to a matter of time — a short time — before they began screwing around with politics, and doing it in their usual brash, short-sighted way.

Timothy Draper made his money the old-fashioned way: his father made a bunch of smart investments that paid off. Like most members of the American nobility, being born at mile 25 ½ in the marathon of life has convinced Draper that he knows best how to cure everything that ails California:

Split the state into six smaller states.

Draper has submitted 1.3 million signatures to state election officials, which allowing for disqualified signatures will probably be enough to meet the 807,615-signature requirement to place his referendum — the Chinese Communist Party would call his idea “splittism” — on the ballot for consideration by voters in November 2016.

California, Draper says, is too big to not fail. With six smaller states governed from six new capitals, he argues, these state governments will be closer to the people — geographically, anyway. Personally, I don’t see the logic. If geographic proximity led legislatures to take better care of constituents, wouldn’t the city governments of state capitals be cleaner, safer and less corrupt than cities and towns further away from legislators’ offices? From Sacramento to Austin to Harrisburg to Albany, however, there is no evidence of that.

Patrick McGreevy writes in The Times:

A Field Poll in February found that 59% of California voters oppose a breakup of the state, Maviglio noted, and the strategist predicted the business community and Democratic and Republican leaders will will campaign against it. “There is no groundswell of support  for this,” said Maviglio. California, he said, “is going to bea laughing stock on [TV comedy shows, including] Jimmy Fallon and David Letterman because of this idea. For anyone considering investment in our state, this raises a question of uncertainty.”

Even if voters approve the ballot measure, breaking up California would have to win approval of Congress, which he said is doubtful. “Is Congress going to give California 10 more senators?” Maviglio asked.

The Republican House? Give Democratic California 10 more senators? Probably not.

So this is a perfect referendum: except for its dubious constitutionality, political unpopularity and almost certain unfeasibility. Which makes me wonder: who are the 1.3 million Californians who signed Draper’s petitions? Sure, I know that voting to put something on the ballot isn’t the same thing as turning up to vote and then supporting a measure. Still, some ideas are so dumb we shouldn’t have to waste our time discussing them in the first place — and this one clearly qualifies.

Which has me thinking: maybe these people need a place all to themselves.

A dumb place.

10 thoughts on “LOS ANGELES TIMES CARTOON: Dumbistan

  1. Sure! Why not?
    Then the two states larger than California (Alaska & Texas – both red) could follow suit and send more politicians to D.C. too! 🙂

  2. Coupla thoughts, one is that the northern redder, rural-er, (non-zillionaire) portion of CA has been pushing for a breakup for some time. Several western blue states with large rural areas have similar discussions going, although I know of no others which are actually close to voting on it.

    But on the larger question – isn’t representation-by-location an eighteenth century idea? The rednecks of CA have more in common with the rednecks of WA than with the pencil necks of Redmond or silicon valley. Maybe we can come up with a more-representational method of representation. Like by profession, f’instance. All farmers constitute one constituency, and just like today representatives are assigned by population. Farmers would get sixty or so representatives. The CEO constituency has a far smaller population & so would have far fewer representatives.

    Works for me.

  3. Isn’t this whole debacle a moot point? Wouldn’t any “additional states” have to be approved by the U.S. Congress? The citizens of California do not have this kind of power. Admittedly, I’m ignorant on this topic, but Virginia/West Virginia comes to mind. Somebody please enlighten me. 🙂

  4. Rather than representation-by-location, how about representation by party? Not like we have today; congressional seats would be apportioned based on party membership – if forty percent of registered voters are dems, then forty percent of congress would be made up of dems. Those representatives would then be voted upon solely by that membership. You’d get to vote on a representative you liked regardless of state lines.

    Small parties like the Green Party would be guaranteed a seat or two, and hopefully that would encourage fragmentation of the duopoly. Today I can vote dem or I can throw my vote away, but if I *knew* that my vote counted towards a greenie rep then voting for the dem would be throwing my vote away.

    The rednecks in Northern California and Eastern Washington could band together for their representation while the pencil necks of S CA and W WA band together for theirs. Those west coast rednecks may be ‘conservatives’ but they have far different concerns than the east coast conservatives, why would they want to be in the same party if there were no advantage to it?

    Remember last presidential “election” when Rich Limpbone was encouraging GOPranos to vote for Hillary in the primaries? This idea would put an end to that nonsense. If you cross over then the opposition gets more seats in congress while your party gets fewer.

    We could get rid of that damned two-houses-of-congress thing. Neither house works very well in the first place, let alone working together. If we reject the whole representation-by-location paradigm then we only need the House of Representatives, and that House more closely represents the people.

    • Does the “Crazy” part of your moniker have any significance????
      😀 😀 😀

      • I think that’s a compliment (and if not then I choose to take it that way. 😉

        I’d originally intended “Crazy H” to be more of a class clown; post hilarious yet pointed remarks and be on his way.

        There’s a child’s card game called “Crazy Eights” – my moniker is a pun on that, as well as a nod to Crazy Horse, “The Crazy 88s” and a couple others that probably only make sense to me.

      • To be honest, I enjoy your posts (at least most of them), but this one was way out in left field – to my way of thinking.
        You probably know that I spent a number of years in Germany, and their multiparty system which forms coalitions to outwit the fringe elements makes a lot of sense to me.
        In other words, the U.S. DEFINITELY needs to scrap the 2-party system and initiate multiple parties (not just the Tea Party which makes the Republicans look reasonable) that can ban together and legislate as the majority of citizens want.
        Good luck with THAT!
        🙂

    • Hi H,
      I think what you are describing is somewhat like an election for the British parliament.

      Each party votes to rank its members from high to low, and the general election is for the party. If the party gets 40% of the vote then the top ranking members of the party take office to compose 40% of the legislature.

      Authoritarians don’t like democratic elections. They will vote for term limits to minimize the impact of democracy. The democratic solution to bad government is to make elections more frequent so bad actors can be removed by elections to limit the harm they cause.

      Ben Franklin’s unicameral legislative body was too democratic for those monarchical authoritarians who hated democracy but nonetheless saw the benefit of giving it lip service while flattering the voting dupes.

      • Thanks for the explanation, Glenn. Makes sense to me.

        One of the problems we face on this side of the pond is that both houses are composed of Lords.