Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
Published: Monday, Jan. 30, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

When a political party achieves dominance of any government, one expects that it would use its hegemony to enact its public policy agenda.

That’s the way democracy is supposed to work.

Using dominance to change the political system with the aim of perpetuating control is another matter. It fixes the game and undermines democracy.

The most obvious example is redrawing legislative and congressional districts to ensure that particular parties or politicians will win subsequent elections, a practice called gerry- mandering that was common in California until voters created an independent redistricting commission.

Gerrymandering, however, is not the only way dominant politicians attempt to predetermine election outcomes.

Commonly, for example, the Legislature places measures on the ballot and dictates the precise ways they are described – words that often shade the truth about the measures’ true effects to persuade voters to vote for something they might not otherwise enact.

That’s fixing the game.

Last year, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and a Legislature controlled by his party decreed that all initiative and referendum ballot measures appear on the November ballot, rather than both the November and the June primary elections, the practice for the last four decades.

Why? Everyone knows that it was to diminish chances that voters would pass a so-called “paycheck protection” measure that would eat into unions’ ability to gather campaign funds from public employees – money that almost always goes to Democrats.

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