Friday, February 27, 2009

Tearing California apart

Many in the Green Party of California are getting excited about the prospect of a California Constitutional Convention. That idea has gotten significant support from such diverse sources as the Bay Area Council and columnist Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee as was clear from the Summit held in Sacramento last week.

Some aspects of this are attractive for Greens, but there are also dangers that we should be aware of. Click Read more! to get the pros and cons.

Almost every Green discussion focuses on the possibility of changing the representation in the State Legislature to include proportional representation for some, if not all, state legislative offices. This would be attractive to those political parties like the Greens who are in the 3rd or 4th rank in terms of size. Greens have only elected on member to the State Legislature in Californian and she switched parties after election.

This may happen, it should at least be considered. However, it will take a massive effort to sell the public on it. In discussion with my neighbors, it is so far away from what they are thinking that it is not even visible on their radar screen. The general tone is to change the people, not change the system, or to find a way to make those in office do their job if they want their pay.

This latter point, no pay for legislators if there is no budget on time, has financial and organizational backing as an initiative measure. The California Grange, an organization that is basically rural, is backing it and has people to gather signatures.

At the same time, there are other solutions that are not likely to happen but which will come into play during a constitutional convention. Republican ex-Assemblyman Bill Maze is pushing very hard for splitting California into two states… not North / South as others have done, but Coastal / Inland. Under Maze's proposal, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco would be part of a Chile narrow, highly urban, large population, left leaning state on the edge. The rest of the state would be much more rural, agricultural and very likely on the political left.

Some may not consider this likely either, but maybe it is just as likely as proportional representation and the Fresno Bee takes it seriously enough to criticize it in an editorial this week.

If either are considered, then Greens need to be in a position to be much more active than we have been, especially with candidates for the state legislature speaking out every opportunity that they get. California is in a crisis and that crisis is an opportunity for those who want to change the whole ball game. It will not happen in any way that we want unless we become much more active that we have been, with much more organization than we have yet demonstrated on past initiative efforts.

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