Tonight, the Anaheim City Council conducted its first public hearing on the draft council district maps produced by the districting commission process, including the “Reyes Map” map chosen by the panel of retired judges as its preferred alternative. It’s the first of three mandatory public hearings on this issue which the council must hold per the settlement agreement with the ACLU.
The celebratory assemblage of progressive political activists and UNITE-HERE union members who will clog the council chambers tonight will, per their talking points, refer to this map as “The People’s Map.” That’s the language of the Left in action. When progressives employ terms like “the community” or “the people,” what they mean are their political supporters: militant unionists, left-wing community organizers and practitioners of racial identity politics. It’s classic left-wing language manipulation that erases non-conforming opinions from “the community” and “the people.”
The thing is, this is not “The People’s Map.” This is the progressives’ map. It is the left-wing unions’ map. It is the Democratic map. The list of groups and individuals advocating for it is a smorgasbord of the Left.
It is the culmination of a progressive political project begun in 2012 — carried out via litigation and a political campaign organized and run by left-wing groups and Democratic campaign consultants, and heavily funded by outside progressive political interests. The goal: restructure the council election system to produce politically progressive councilmembers of a specific race and ethnicity (in this case, Latino), who will enact policies to advance progressive interests in Anaheim and Orange County.
The familiar faces mobilized by OCCORD (which has had a litigator from San Francisco helping them manage the districting process), UNITE-HERE, OCCCO et al paraded to the microphone at the districting committee meetings to push for their favored map, demanding council district lines that would elect Latinos. The explicit demands for engineering pre-determined racial outcomes in elections is astonishing to hear. Then again, I grew up in an era in which there as a broad, bi-partisan consensus that America should move away from a color-conscious society to a color-blind one. Contemporary progressivism of today embraces racialism.
Media coverage has largely missed (or ignored) this aspect of the process. The narrative that that “The People’s Map” is the brainchild of a young Anaheim substitute teacher named Oscar Reyes who decided to submit some maps is a sanitized version of the political reality. It is readily apparent from Reyes’ own account, published in TheLiberalOC.com, that he is a progressive activist who has been involved in this political project for quite some time, not just some guy who drew a map.
The judges serving on the districting panel, while sincere in their efforts, didn’t seem to get that the “community members” who came to their meetings urging adoption of the Reyes map were the same left-wing activists whom OCCORD and UNITE-HERE have been carting to council meetings for years. At the end of the process, Judge Wallin, the committee chair, marveled at the degree of unity he witnessed during the meetings; unanimity isn’t difficult to simulate when you flood the zone. The OCCORD/UNITE-HERE effort was the only organized effort to influence the districting process.
Give credit where credit is due: OCCORD, UNITE-HERE, Jose Moreno and their left-wing cohorts (with valuable assistance from several blinkered Anaheim Republicans) set a strategic goal. Their progressive policy agenda was consistently stymied by an at-large council election system that produced Republican council majorities (Anaheim is the largest California city with a GOP council majority). They responded by launching a long-term project to re-structure Anaheim city government along progressive lines: increase the size of the council, corral preponderance of high-propensity GOP voters into a single Anaheim Hills district, and voila! – a racially-gerrymandered by-district council system that will tend to elect Democratic majorities, and all the policy consequences that will flow from that outcome.
They’ve boxed in the city council and its just a matter of formalizing the victory. As UNITE-HERE’s Martin Lopez – who has been a key field operative in this effort from the get-go — recently opined on Facebook, “We’re almost there.” OCCORD and UNITE-HERE even brought champagne bottles to the final districting committee meeting and toasted their win with Judge Wallin.
Even so, it’s worth being mindful of the political reality of what is happening, amidst the hooey about “The People’s Map” produced by “the community.”