Friday, January 14, 2005

Even Nonpartisanship Is Partisan These Days

Andrew Sullivan seconds Peter Beinart's seconding of Gov. Schwarzenegger's (not yet fully articulated) plan to establish a nonpartisan re-districting process. Beinart seems to suggest this idea is new and is evidence of Schwarzenegger's maverick or "post-ideological" political philosopy. Neither is the case. In fact, Schwarzenegger has been talking about this since he entered office, and it has been discussed by California Republicans (with impeccable partisan credentials) for years. Florida Democrats have for years considered placing a similiar initiative before Florida voters, and are looking at 2006 as a target date for actually doing so.

Schwarzenegger is not "post-ideological." In California's case, nonpartisanship is of course quite partisan, because a nonpartisan re-districting process clearly benefits Republicans, who represent a minority in both houses of the state legislature. Despite substantial Democratic majorities, the re-districting process in California is no worse than in any other state. Before raising millions from special interests to support a ballot initiative billed as a slap at special interests, Schwarzenegger might try expending some of his political capital on the phone with Tom Delay, who has made partisan re-districting not only an art form but also a hard science. A maverick? Hardly. Schwarzenegger is supporting the not-so-novel idea of nonpartisan re-districting commissions not as a political party-pooper but as a loyal Republican.