Screen shot 2010-11-03 at 12.04.08 PM

A reader writes:

Lost in the shuffle of Prop 19's failure was the passage, by a 61% majority, of Prop 20, regarding the redistricting of Congressional districts. Like most states, California's legislature has done redistricting every 10 years, and whatever party is in power in Sacramento carves out absurd districts to protect favored members from ever seeing a competitive election. I live in CA-33, the ridiculous map of which you can see above.

I think it sort of looks like the Nintendo character Yoshi. I live up in Yoshi's head up north. The upshot of that is that in a densely populated city, I live over a half hour from my member's office, just so Diane Watson (and now Karen Bass) never had to be in a real race. Before that, we were attached to Howard Berman's district (his office in Panorama City was also over a half hour away), so he could cruise to victory every 2 years.

In any event, the passed initiative constitutional amendment will take the power to redistrict away from the legislators and give it to a redistricting commission which is made up of 5 Dems, 5 Reps and 4 of neither party. Everything has to be approved by at least 3 Dems, 3 Reps, and 3 none-of-the-aboves. I am concerned about the power given to the none-of-the-aboves in that arrangement, but hopefully, this will take the politics out of the process, at least somewhat, and I can have an actual representative for the first time in 16 years. Likely the result will be a few less Dems in the California delegation, but I think that overall, the delegation will become more moderate over time.

In districts like mine, my member is much more likely to see a serious challenge from her left than from the Republicans, so there is no penalty for extreme behavior and rhetoric. The end result is a House of Representatives where members are so out of touch that they actually think that John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi are good spokesmen for their parties.

Maybe other states will follow and we will stop electing the most extreme elements of both parties to the House.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.