I was on our local NPR call-in show this morning, being slightly incoherent because I was trying to cover a lot of ideas quickly... Recording here
, I'm the first caller, at 28:45. Another couple of callers made similar comments about simply automating the process, or otherwise making it more mechanical and less up to the discretion of human beings. We need to restrict what kinds of lines can ever be drawn, rather than just changing who draws them. I don't think the panelists ever provided any meaningful response on that point. There were definitely some good comments, and everyone (including the Republican on the panel!) seemed to sincerely care about the basic good-gov't points, but I'm not sure the people who are trying to make policy here actually have enough technical expertise to deal effectively with the issue, and they absolutely refuse to acknowledge that any "neutral arbiter" they come up with will inevitably be targeted for influence and corruption if they retain unrestricted power to draw lines as convoluted as they please (as the Supreme Court idiotically allowed in the Texas case). Math is more reliable than human judgement here. Getting broad consensus on the criteria
for "good" districts isn't hard; so let's just translate those into a mathematical evaluation, and let anybody submit a set of districts for scoring.
Aside from the fact that I don't particularly want us to enact a "reform" that does little good, and then have people feel that we've solved the problem and so we shouldn't fiddle with it again for a generation or two, I'm also concerned about the "unilateral disarmament" problem (which was also mentioned, and also addressed poorly -- just because people are working on this problem in other states, that doesn't mean it will pass
in, say, Texas or Florida). We either need to link enactment of whatever law we pass with enactment of identical laws in other states, or we need to make it a federal issue.
Oh, and my comment on the show about the CA-11 race, which may sound like a non-sequitur if you just jump straight there, was pertinent to something that had been said earlier -- that preserving communities of interest is important in primaries. You can have situations where incumbents "choose their voters" in a way that means that a community is split into several fragments, each of which is represented by the "right" party, but none of which has a representative who is closely tied to that community. I can imagine that some of the Santa Cruz people included in Anna Eshoo's district may not be as fond of her as we Silicon Valley types are; while I'm sure she does her best to represent them fairly, and runs town-hall meetings over there to listen to their issues, she's ultimate a Silicon Valley Dem, former tech executive, etc.