Brian, I believe you are sadly mistaken about the proposed redistricting plan. Look, for instance, at a map of the 23rd Congressional District in California. This was highlighted in Friday's WSJ editorial section. The 23rd is a prime example of gerrymandering - that fun little term we all learned about in high school government class. The Gov. was right about this practice, referring to it as "a political elite building a fortress to keep the politicians in and the people out." Gerrymandering hurts elections, making them less competitive. As WSJ reminded me, in 2004 only seven incumbents lost in House races. I'm sure more than seven representatives deserved job relocation. Instead, the people are continually relocated into different districts - which often do not serve their interests in the best fashion.
Brian, the most interesting rebuttal to your accusation of Arnold's plan being republican political hackery would be this from WSJ: "Governor Schwarzenegger's proposal is especially notable because it may not even be in his own party's self-interest. California is a Democratic-leaning state, and the gerrymandering arguably locks in more Republican Congressional seats that the GOP could obtain in genuinely competitive races" (3/11/05 WSJ editorial).
The Legislature refuses to play ball, and now the Gov. will work to bring this to the people on the ballot. What could be more beautiful than that? The only thing better than the retired judges would be some computer formula, but with that you may run into certain ethical questions.
I am interested in getting the politics out of politics or, more aptly, government. I want to see squares, not snakes, in my Congressional districts. Fixing gerrymandering is a necessity to ensure reform of other fundamental problems in the future. Same goes with tax reform. Competitive elections, yielding better representation, is necessary for good policy in the future. It will yield people with fresh ideas, and beyond everything else, at least ideally, yield people who are truly public servants. Tax reform, comparatively, is needed first before good spending reform can be enacted. I really wish Bush would go with tax reform before Social Security. This is why I applaud Arnold. Do what is necessary Arnold, even if it means ultimately touching the state Constitution.
Here, a map of all California districts. Here, an interactive map of all US Congressional Districts.