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Golden State Warriors

Jan
18
2005

There’s been a lot of chat recently about Democrats getting angry, standing up, and fighting back. But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. For an illustration, let’s turn to the California Democratic Party.
Last week, Democrats stood up and told Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger they weren’t going to take it any more. But they didn’t pick their battle very carefully.
To demonstrate their independence, the legislature declined to re-appoint Reed Hastings to his seat on the state Board of Education. Hastings, said the legislature’s Latino caucus wasn’t as supportive of bi-lingual education as he should be. The Netflix CEO, appointed by former Gov. Grey Davis, is in favor of charter schools, long a teacher-union-busting tactic. And – what’s worse – he’s a Democrat appointed by a Republican. My God! The Horror!


This could turn out to be a turning point in the relationship between Silicon Valley and the state’s Democratic Party. And it couldn’t happen at a better time for Gov. Terminator. He’s already squeezing the party on one of its traditional strong-holds – new immigrant voters. So now he’s going after the state’s moderate, increasingly political, community of entrepreneurs and business folks. He’s going after Silicon Valley. And the Democrats are holding the door for him.
See, Silicon Valley – which ponied up more than $30 million to help elect John Kerry – does not like partisan gamesmanship. They think it’s a waste of time and that – more importantly – it keeps committed guys like Hastings out of public service. That’s why they love Arnold.
On these two arguments they are right. Now, sometimes it’s a good idea for government to “waste” time. A little deliberation can go a long way. And I’ve written plenty on the drawbacks of having this group – which I call Progressive libertarians – call all the shots. Sometimes their public service is self-serving, wrapped in a few too many conditions and caveats. But that hasn’t been the case with Hastings. He’s been talking about schools – through thick and thin, through Democrats and Republicans – for the past seven years.
What the Democrats have really done here is take an opportunity to lull their more moderate supporters into thinking they’re interested in good government and turn it into a demonstration on the need for redistricting. Silicon Valley is big on “creative destruction” and change and Schwarzenegger’s proposal to reconfigure the way legislative and Congressional districts are drawn is right up their alley. It’s a way to throw the established legacy system out the window and start again. State Democrats, who have run the legislature almost since the beginning of time, disagree. They like being the mainframe computers of politics.
Well, we know what happened to the mainframe. There’s a whole museum in Mountain View where you can go and see these dinosaurs with plugs.
So don’t be surprised if Controller Steve Westly – Silicon Valley’s man in Sacramento – comes out in favor of some kind of redistricting plan. He’ll have his own version so he won’t look like he’s completely left the party, of course. But he needs to get in front of this issue. It won’t be too much of s a stretch; Westly’s already backed the idea of open primaries which would have the same effect as Schwarzenegger’s redistricting plan: the creation of a more moderate state government. And he’s been in favor of an extension of term limits as a way to let folks who get elected to office get good at the jobs they’re doing. And whattdya know? Writing on this very site, lawyer Josh Benson suggested just such a compromise!

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