California Election Reforms Going National?

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Will the California election reform movement that brought the state the top two primary and citizens redistricting soon be moving to other states? Not an unreasonable assumption if one listened to the opening discussion at the Schwarzenegger Institute’s conference on political reform at the University of Southern California yesterday.

Former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger argued in his opening remarks that his “people over politics” movement, which included the top-two primary and the Citizen’s Redistricting Commission, has to be done nationally.

Later, in a panel on political gridlock, Schwarzenegger noted that 24 states have the initiative process, “where we can create changes.” Little changes, he suggested, could reverberate to Washington and help end gridlock there.

One suspects Arnold Schwarzenegger is gearing up to lead the fight across the nation to seek these reforms.

The conference introduced a study by USC political science professor, Christian Grose, who claimed in a release, “An analysis of roll-call votes shows that the California Assembly has become 15% less polarized since electoral reforms went into effect. At the same time, the Senate has seen a 10% drop in polarization.”

Schwarzenegger’s former chief of staff, Susan Kennedy, moderated the panel on gridlock. Besides Schwarzenegger, MSNBC’s Morning Joe show co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski participated.

The panel suggested the solutions to political gridlock could be achieved with more interpersonal relationships between political opponents as well as the courage politicians need to stand up to solve problems when the elected official’s political base doesn’t agree with them.

Schwarzenegger said he hated no one when he was in office despite differing political views. He called former Democratic Senate leader John Burton “a friend and mentor” who had different political beliefs. However, Schwarzenegger said they liked to “hang out” with each other. He said that relationship resulted in worker’s compensation reform.

Kennedy noted that many Democrats she knew said – once they left office – how right the other side was on some issues. But when in office they did not buck the party line.

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