Thomas Oatway | A Lesson in Real-World Politics

A small piece in The Signal’s March 5 edition pointed out that former District 25 Rep. Steve Knight ranked 5th in the 115th Congress’ House of Representatives in effective lawmaking based on empirical metrics. This ranking system professes to be an objective method to evaluate lawmakers in their effectiveness in crafting legislation and moving it through the legislative process. However, when I looked at the rankings of other California representatives, I found the current ranking member of the House, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R- Bakersfield, only placed 60th. And the current House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, D- San Francisco, achieved a ranking that placed her last, 204th of 204. This led me to recall the idiom, “figures lie and liars figure.” 

I could not find any obvious partisanship in the authors, both academics, from the Center for Effective Lawmaking. Rankings do obviously seem to favor the party in power. The metrics may also need to be modified to reflect positions taken by the representatives that align or fail to align with home district priorities. 

A vote for the tax reform legislation, which wasn’t uniformly popular with Californians, may have been consequential for Knight, who lost his campaign for re-election. And the lowest ranking representative was Pelosi, who has recently taken President Trump to school. Welcome to the real world of politics.

Thomas Oatway, Valencia

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