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Dems With Two-Thirds? Keep Dreaming

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Dems With Two-Thirds? Keep Dreaming

AP

Assemblyman John Perez, D-Los Angeles, stands to cast his vote for himself during the election of a new Assembly Speaker at the Capitol in Sacramento.

This weekend's California Democratic convention demonstrated that the Republicans aren't the only part in denial -- and in a way that is delaying the systemic reform the state needs.

Republicans cling to the broken system because its two-thirds supermajorities and fiscal rules give them leverage to hold up budgets and taxation -- and demand legislative ransoms.  Even though this system, which requires them to sign off on fiscal decisions, keeps them in the minority by making it impossible for them to hold the majority accountable.

And the convention showed that Democrats cling to the system because they have the illussion of power -- they control the legislature and statewide offices. Of course, the same rules that give the Republicans leverage prevent Democrats from doing very much on any issue that costs money.

So why don't the Democrats seek reform? Because, as the LA Times reports on the convention, party leaders are clinging to the impossible dream that they can achieve two-thirds supermajorities in next year's elections.

Good luck with that. Republican weakness does not mean that Democrats are strong. The current legislative system actually exaggerates Democratic strength and support in the state. Consultants who know this world suggest that Democrats are doing about as well as they possibly can. And population gains in California, which will be reflected in new redistricting, are largest in areas represented by Republicans.

But that hasn't disabused Democrats of their fantasy. Assembly Speaker John Perez said at the convention: "It's absolutely clear the only permanent solution for California's problems is to elect a two-thirds majority of Democrats in each house of the Legislature. That work must begin today."

Think how silly that is. A "permanent" two-thirds majority? Do the Democrats intend to suspend elections after they get two thirds. And even with two thirds, Democrats would have to keep a diverse party in line -- and tangle with all kinds of remaining fiscal rules.

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