We’ve largely steered clear of local Republicans’ attempts to invent controversy over supposed partisanship in the redistricting process, but ongoing harassment, personal attacks and a downright offensive hit piece by San Diego News Room editor David King over the weekend have pushed things too far.
Let’s begin with where all of this should have ended: There is simply no substantive criticism of any redistricting staff member or commissioner. None. Rather, the San Diego Republican Party has turned to the only page in their playbook when they don’t get what they want: invective, personal attack and hypocritically accusing others of partisanship. These tactics are both tired and insulting.
This weekend, the discourse reached a new low with a spiteful and, at times, nonsensical commentary by King, who might have wanted to consult the “former ‘general counsel of the Republican Party of San Diego’” line on his resume before accusing other people of being partisan and biased. King tries to deride San Diego’s political system by drawing parallels to mentally challenged children, and then goes on to make sexist insults about commission members. His underlying argument is that the presence of young, attractive women in politics is inherently immoral—a ridiculous, condescending smear in the place of actual critique. King throws out words like “scandalous” and “shameless” to somehow prove that there is an age requirement to be “highly ethical and objective, with the ability to navigate in a political environment without being political, and serve in an unbiased and impartial way.”
Based on this screed, more than 40 years haven’t led David King to meet any of those standards, so it’s particularly odd that he would try to throw so many stones from his glass house. But despite betraying his own age-based bias by writing the column in the first place, he goes on to cite involvement in a non-partisan civic organization as a disqualifying resume point for fulfilling the above description. Since King is as partisan as they come, it’s hard to imagine why he believes his particular attacks would be relevant, but he wrote the piece anyway (and somehow managed to avoid any sort of substantive argument).
King makes personal attacks against commission Chief of Staff Midori Wong, but never says a word about her job performance, positive or negative. None whatsoever. Nor of the work of the redistricting commission. One has to assume that if there was anything at all in the commission’s work that could be criticized, King would have used it—at the very least in order to appear like he’s got a real argument to make and isn’t abhorrently sexist.
King’s argument is that Wong is unqualified just because he doesn’t like her age or the non-partisan things she did before taking a non-partisan job. It’s a pathetic attempt to nakedly intimidate the redistricting process and carry water for the San Diego GOP. The shameless hypocrisy would be even more insulting if it wasn’t established by now as the only way the SDGOP knows how to participate in politics.
If King has concerns about the standard of political process or debate in San Diego, he can start by looking squarely in the mirror to find the absolute worst sort of politics—the sort that directly undermines any hope of engaging with the issues that face our city openly, honestly, and substantively. It’s shameless, it’s offensive and it has no place in a discussion of how to make San Diego better.
Redistricting is an extremely important process for San Diego, and if King, his party cronies, or anyone else is concerned about that process being corrupted by partisanship, then they can start to improve things this minute: by leaving out the partisan attacks, the sexism, the ageism, the patronizing insults, and start to discuss how best to shape San Diego’s districts in a way that meets the interests of the community. King’s response, like the full run thus far of the GOP’s manufactured “scandal,” has yet to even pay lip service to that part of the debate (the part that actually carries any relevance to San Diego), and we’re all the less for it. If he or the Republican Party has any substance to offer, now would be a great time to cut the crap and get to work.
In the meantime, we’re stuck with them offering nothing to the process but naked partisanship, sexism, ham-handed accusations of immorality, and a sense of righteousness that gets more absurd with every word. If this is what King or the SDGOP think qualifies as serious, substantive political debate, we’re left to wonder if they’re remotely serious about anything.
by Lucas O’Connor
I serve as a board member for San Diego’s New Leaders Council chapter and fully expect that this will be the focus of any rebuttal, rather than the substance of the redistricting process.