In this season of gratitude, thank you, California, for showing the rest of us how good government works.
Ten years ago, the state had runaway deficits, gridlocked budgets, and a recall circus.
Today, according to Adam Nagourney’s piece in the New York Times, California, in tone and productivity, offers a contrast to acid-throwing Washington:
Three major changes helped leach some of the partisanship out of California politics:
- Voting districts are now drawn by a nonpartisan commission, rather than by the party in power.
- The top two finishers in a nonpartisan primary run against each other, regardless of party affiliation.
- Term limits now allow lawmakers of both houses to serve 12 years.
Without gerrymandering, legislators of both parties must represent a shifting demographic. Nonpartisan elections free them from blind obedience to the party base. With term limits expanded, every problem doesn’t need to be solved the first year.
In this new climate, laws have been passed dealing with school financing, immigration, gun control and abortion. Republicans have voted for immigration, Democrats for regulatory reform.
And let’s not forget Obamacare. California demonstrates the system can work, signing up 10,000 people every day, with 22.5% of them young. If the Affordable Care Act works in California, a state with 38 million people, 22% of them non-elderly uninsured, according to Paul Krugman, it’s a proof of concept. Obamacare can (and will gradually) work.
Of course in California, Democrats control both the Assembly and Senate and the state has a moderate Democratic Governor (vetoing some gun control and immigration bills).
The good news may not last, but for this year, in this season of gratitude, let’s hear it for Good Governance California.