Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

California needs a new constitution

so thinks Tom Karako. His major point is this:

"To the extent that California is ungovernable today, it is partly because its legislative and executive branches are too weak and dysfunctional to resist entrenched special interests and non-elected bureaucracies." So you can’t fix the fiscal mess unless you re-write the constitution to make it more Madisonian.

He has many detailed suggestions worth considering.   

Discussions - 17 Comments

Karako does a nice job in that piece. Conservatives in California will need to slaughter a couple of big, fat, sacred cows for this to work. The biggest may be the two-thirds majority requirement for passing a budget and raising taxes. A lot of Republicans fear this would lead to unchecked taxation and spending.
I doubt it. If anything, the majority Democrats would need to be more circumspect -- or risk inviting a backlash from voters.

Why, exactly, does Karako believe that the authors of this new state constitution would be able to "resist entrenched special interests and non-elected bureaucracies" any better than the current lawmakers operating under the current constitution?

This actually came up over dinner I had with some Angelenos, most of a liberal persuasion but a few conservatives among them, a few months ago. It was the first I had heard of these talks of a constitutional convention. What struck me is that all of them identified the same problem--"special interests" and bureaucrats wielding too much of the power in Sacramento--and suggested the same three basics solutions-- localizing certain things and giving counties and mayors more power, dramatically reducing ballot-box initiatives, and making the state constitution more difficult to alter.


The same thing, by the way, was applied to Los Angeles as well. In a state the size of many countries, these city with a larger population than most states is a giant political mess. Where direct democracy and constant political engagement from the populace was once the fad, the citizens of the City of Angels are beginning to complain about the frequency of elections and the amount of items placed on the ballot, the biggest logic behind the criticisms being that hardly anyone has the time to read through all of these initiatives put forth all the time and that hardly anyone cares about elections outside of November, meaning that an election in January tends to go unnoticed by the general population and dominated by "special interests" (usually unions) who organize their people to go vote.


All and all, after a while in playing with more democratic and less-Madisonian, Californians are beginning to ask what they pay their legislators for and that it's best to stick to representative government rather than direct government. Even the cynically liberal Joel Stein is asking for them to stop allowing him to vote on everything. But I believe every problem has a simple solution, and that solution is usually to do nothing. So I'm fully supporting Vote No on Everything, an organization started by Los Angeles doctor Reed Levine. You can tell this is a serious effort because the website sells T shirts. Levine realized the initiative system was faulty right after he voted for a $10 billion high-speed train and then wondered if $10 billion was a bargain or a rip-off for a high-speed train. His plan appeals to me, since if we vote against everything, our elected officials will be forced to deal with the issues themselves. Plus, it seems childish and obnoxious. So from now on, I'm voting no on my right to vote. Though I'm probably going to do it, at most, only once every two years.

silly! all they need to do is drill the oil sitting off the coast. i was born there, and will never go back. everyone who lives there deserves everything that's happening.

What struck me is that all of them identified the same problem--"special interests" and bureaucrats wielding too much of the power in Sacramento--and suggested the same three basics solutions-- localizing certain things and giving counties and mayors more power, dramatically reducing ballot-box initiatives, and making the state constitution more difficult to alter.

Reducing ballot box initiatives and making the state constiution more difficult to alter (I assume this means via the legislative process and not via judicial "interpetation") will only increase the power of the special interests.

Californians are beginning to ask what they pay their legislators for and that it's best to stick to representative government rather than direct government.

California's problems do not stem from "direct government" but from unacountable and unelected government. Prop 187 is the prime example of this. The illegal overturning of the peoples will in this instance is largely responsible for the states current fiscal mess.

Even the cynically liberal Joel Stein is asking for them to stop allowing him to vote on everything.

Even the liberals! Because we all know that liberals are so committed to government by, for and of the people! Yeah, that's real man-bites-dog stuff. If the Democratic Party had their way, nobody would ever vote on anything again.

John M., you certainly do know how to fix everyone's problems for them, don't you?



Rob - I think it would be great if a new surge in localism spawned from California's problems. The Right shouldn't (and, to an extent, doesn't) have an ideological monopoly on hating centralized government or advocating for state autonomy.

This is why California is ungovernable:

http://rightwingvideo.com/?p=2664

Another substance-free comment from the "grown-up" Matty. Which is a good thing - it shows that he's learned his lesson from the times he's attempted to say something.

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black . . .

Although if you think that "substance" consists of textbook ad-hominems and cliched right-wing talking points, then I guess only you really say much of anything on this blog. I happily concede your point. Quite frankly, being harassed by you on the internet reminds me of coming home to my welcoming dog: the reaction is predictable and mindless, but I can't help enjoying the sense of self-importance that it gives me.

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black .

Thanks for that textbook ad-hominem. You were beng ironic, right?

I can't help enjoying the sense of self-importance that it gives me

If you enjoy the feeling of self-importance then I'm sure you spend your life walking around with a blissful smle on your face.

Decentralization is obviously a good thing. It's worth nothing why we are on a constant slide towards ever-increasing centralization instead. It is because the political clerisy sees centralization as in their own best interests. The European Union is just the latest example of this impluse in action. So any proposed localizaton effort has to be aware that powerful forces are acting in the opposite direction. Even Lawler is a "centerist".

nothing=noting

If you enjoy the feeling of self-importance then I'm sure you spend your life walking around with a blissful smle on your face.



Does anyone not enjoy that feeling? And with as much attention as I get from you, you better believe I walk around smiling!

To all: You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk? Down here in the land of the waking cows one out of two people I talk to about politics mention war. Civil war? Politician are as crooked as the mob and more sinister than Aleister Crowley. After reading all I'm starting to appreciate the t-shirt humor, "shot them all and let god sort them out."

Leave a Comment

* denotes a required field
 

No TrackBacks
TrackBack URL: http://nlt.ashbrook.org/movabletype/mt-tb.cgi/14215