So much for legislative "clout" on Capitol Hill, which usually means the ability to mulct the public for the benefit of special interest groups which then will contribute towards one's reelection. Because voters took the power of redistricting away from the state legislature, California's incumbent congressmen may no longer look forward to easy and perpetual reelection.
In 2010, voters got fed up and passed a ballot initiative - Proposition 20 - to take control of congressional redistricting away from the state legislature and hand it to an unelected commission. That body has now presented its first draft of a congressional map that sent shock waves through the state, drawing several members out of their current districts and into potential fights with other lawmakers.
"That's what the people wanted," said Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.). "They wanted a redistricting that ignored the protection of incumbents."
Will any of the state's most senior members fall victim to the new map? The jury is still out - and the map faces more revisions before the lines are set - but there's no question that some long-protected incumbents will have a hotter summer than usual.
America likes to call itself a republic, but what kind of democratic system creates an unlevel political playing field in which legislators have higher reelection rates than members of the old Soviet Communist Central Committee had retention rates? Now if only we could apply term limits to Congress.
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