Who Makes the Grade?

Ranking California’s Legislators from “Radically Centrist” to “Persistently Polarizing”

Reason in Government (“Reason”) is a social welfare organization headquartered in Santa Barbara, California. We educate citizens and encourage civic engagement to encourage more effective, efficient, and reasoned public policies in accordance with a set of core principles – principles that make us centrists with a point of view, rather than centrists who necessarily seek to occupy the middle ground. Briefly, we believe in less intrusive and more effective government driven by a thorough and empirical policy formulation process. In today’s political parlance, we are reformers who are generally socially liberal, fiscally conservative, and environmentally conscious. We are, therefore, neither consistently “left” nor “right” on public policy issues, nor are we always in the “middle.” Instead, because our positions are guided by reason rather than political orthodoxy, and because we advocate for those positions, we are the voice of the radical center.

Reason in Government ranks all California Legislators from “radically centrist” to “persistently polarizing” by examining their voting histories over four years across a wide-range of legislation. This unprecedented effort to identify reasoned centrists in Sacramento includes surprising findings and novel insights. It is intended to educate voters and spark debate on the contours of centrism with a point of view as well as the need for government reform across California.

legislator-scorecard-2016-thumbnail We prepared this Scorecard – “Who Makes the Grade?” – to answer two very simple questions:

First, are there any “radically centrist” legislators in California – those whose views are routinely guided by a commitment to reasoned policy consistent with our core principles (e.g., promoting personal and economic freedom, less intrusive and more effective government, and careful balancing when two important values conflict, such as environmental protection and economic opportunity)?

Second, are there any legislators who so consistently eschew these principles – who are so far removed from the radical center – that they can be considered “persistently polarizing?” We believe that both the process we used to answer these questions, as well as the answers themselves, will educate the public and spur both debate and civic engagement on the need for government reform in Santa Barbara and across California.