The New York Times yesterday offered up an interesting new take on the California ballot measure that has garnered a great deal of media attention as of late, suggesting that its probable demise next month will be largely due to a shock-and-awe style assault on it by supporters of Hillary Clinton. The initiative would redistribute California’s electoral votes by congressional district, effectively handing Republicans 20 free points in the otherwise blue state. The measure, sponsored by a Republican law firm, has been linked to supporters of Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani. Surprisingly, however, opposition has come not from grassroots internet stalwarts but instead from influential supporters of the Clinton campaign.
The snappiest analysis comes from Bruce E. Cain, director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, who the article quotes as saying that “Clinton’s people have taken the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive military strikes against hostile nations and applied it to domestic campaigns.”
The article attributes the bulk of the tactical work to Chris Lehane, a former member of Bill Clinton’s administration and a Democratic heavy-hitter with enough influence to rally national Democrats, state Democrats, and the Democratic mayors of three major California cities to an unprecedented level of active opposition. But why this sudden vigilance, when normally it takes an outcry from local and internet activists to elicit even general condemnation from the elite—never mind actual action? Is this a sign that Clinton’s people simply don’t want to take the risk of losing those votes, or a long-awaited expression of moral certitude? Let’s hope it’s the latter and that our Democratic Congress takes the hint.