Michael Miner writes:

“Imagine waking up tomorrow morning to discover the Republicans were running the Illinois senate once again, except that no one could get into the chamber so they had to meet out on the lawn. When political reform gets preached in Illinois, the message is that other places have mastered democracy with dignity, so why not here? The problem with that is that democracy is constantly disgracing itself.”

This is by way of explaining the clusterfuck in New York State, which is totally fascinating. But I would contend that the clusterfuck in California is more fascinating and more severe.

Why? As Sam Boyd explains in arguing for a federal bailout of the state of freaking California, the problem isn’t just corruption, or idiot politicians, or idiot voters, but degrees of all that within systemic flaws that are inherent to the political structure of the entire state: the rabble can virtually vote itself money straight out of the treasury, while it takes almost an act of God (technically, a 2/3 majority vote in the legislature) to raise taxes. They’ve been playing chicken with the state budget for months and a “Doomsday scenario” that puts any in our state to shame is on the horizon. The fact that California is on the vanguard of the housing bubble only makes it worse.

So I’d rank it:

3. New York (a couple rogue bad apples at the fulcrum of a tenuous balance of power between parties)

2. Illinois (corruption + general political incompetence + one-party rule)

1. California (some of the above plus crushing structural flaws in the political system itself)