A belief that genuine representation in government is a function of ethnicity and race underlies the campaign to divide Anaheim into single-member council districts. This is obvious to anyone who has observed this issue unfold over the last year.
It is equally obvious that those leading this campaign are aware that the great majority of voters don’t like race-based policy-making and are offended by the idea of their government seeing them as white, black, Latino or Asian or whatever (not to mention these racial and ethnic classifications are increasingly meaningless in a state like California with its high rates of ethnic and racial intermarriage). That’s why you see and hear them slipping back and forth between saying the demand for single-member districts is about electing more Latinos and saying that Latinos doesn’t need to be represented by Latinos in order to be represented. This continuous shifting is politically savvy and intellectually dishonest.
Here’s an example from the June 11, 2013 Anaheim City Council meeting. Dr. Jose F. Moreno is the highly race-conscious lead plaintiff in the ACLU lawsuit seeking to force single-member districts on Anaheim residents who have never asked for it. Watch as Moreno, in the space of mere seconds, takes intellectually contradictory positions on race and representation:
First of all, the complaint about the dearth of Latino’s elected in “150 years” is a dishonest debate point given that the great growth of Anaheim’s Latino population is a relatively recent phenomenon.
Still, it is the basis of Moreno’s claim that his vote – and by extension, that of Anaheim’s Latino voters — is “diluted.” By that reasoning, the greater the number of Latino councilmembers in Anaheim, the less the Latino vote is diluted and the greater their representation. Moreno makes the ethnicity of councilmembers to standard by which we are supposed to judged whether or not Latinos are represented on the Anaheim city Council.
In the next breath, Moreno says just the opposite: that representation for Latino voters isn’t “simply about electing other Latinos.”
If that’s true, then Moreno’s arguments about the number of Latinos elected to the Anaheim city council is irrelevant.
I don’t know if this is textbook cognitive dissonance or a sophisticated attempt to accommodate the fact that most voters are repelled by setting government policy according to racial considerations. Look at it this way: anytime California voters have been given the opportunity make their state government more color-blind, they have taken it.
It reminds me of a Facebook conversation I had a year ago with Moreno and OCCORD’s Eric Altman after the filing of the ACLU lawsuit. Moreno kept insisting the lawsuit was not about re-structuring the council election system according to ethnic considerations — despite the fact that the lawsuit of which he is the lead plaintiff states, in black-and-white, that its goal is to elect more Latinos. [let me point out my objection is to configuring government representation in order to achieve desired racial/ethnic outcomes.]
At one point, I pointed out to Moreno and Altman that my children are half-white and half-Mexican and asked if one of them were elected to the Anaheim City Council, would she be a Latina councilmember or a white councilmember? Despite, my repeated attempts, neither one of them would answer the question. Given Moreno’s demonstrated exactitude regarding the various aspects of ethnicity, I found his reticence odd.
My point was to illustrate the ultimate silliness of their philosophy of race and representation, akin to California Voting Rights Act author Robert Rubin’s creepy quibbling about whether or not Lorri Galloway is a Latina. How much Latino blood is necessary to qualify as such? 50%? 25% This may seem silly, but that is the road down which the philosophy of the CVRA and the ACLU lawsuit inevitably lead us. The differences with Native American blood quantum laws or the old Jim Crow “one drop” rule are of degree, not of kind.
The great majority of fair-minded Americans, believing that all men are created equal, abhor that kind of political racialism. It’s my belief that the leading advocates of single-member council districts in Anaheim are aware of that and couch their public rhetoric accordingly.