Hollywood produced “Ishtar” and, more recently, Disney’s “John Carter.” But it has never made a bomb quite like Tuesday’s California elections. Expectations were high. California’s political reformers told us that this would be the year everything changed. After a decade and a half of reform efforts, a new system of less partisan elections was finally in place, and fairly drawn legislative districts and a new top-two primary system would usher in a new era of democracy. Voters would be engaged, competition would be spurred, independents would get a boost and California would see the kind of big policy debates necessary to find solutions to the state’s persistent governance crisis. Oh, well. But give the reformers credit; they did make change. In place of our old system, we got something that preserves many of our worst political traditions — while making things a little bit worse.
Turnout, never high in California, was even lower than the low-end predictions. About 18 million of the 23 million-plus Californians eligible to vote didn’t participate, making “This Isn’t Worth My Time” the only popular mandate to come out of this election. Strong independents such as San Diego mayoral contender Nathan Fletcher and congressional candidates Linda Parks and Anthony Adams failed in campaigns against partisans who received far less positive publicity.
And instead of producing debates about how to solve California’s big structural problems, the legislative campaigns under this new system kept to narrow talking points. Democrats of all varieties said they were for middle-class college scholarships (which require tax changes that Democrats can’t enact because of the two-thirds supermajority requirement on revenue). Republicans talked about reducing the size of bloated government (even though state government is smaller on a per capita basis now than any time since Ronald Reagan was governor). Looking through campaign websites and fliers from around the state, I found only a handful of candidates who directly addressed the state’s governability, and they were, with a couple of exceptions, Democrats in overwhelmingly Democratic places.
Full Article: California election reforms didn’t deliver – latimes.com.