I Don’t Recall This

Bat-ass crazy sh**bird holds a bat-ass crazy sh**bird sign
I mean, the important thing is, people wanting to recall Walker are reasonable people. (photo: h/t richocet.com)

As I write this, tomorrow is the big Recall Election in Wisconsin, and frankly, there’s only one thing that I don’t “get” about it.

Before Arnold Schwarzenegger became Governor of California, I’d never really heard of a recall election. I understand the mechanics and all that, but what the Hell ever happened to just riding out the term of a s*** jockey that managed to get in office?

If Recall Elections were always a choice, why do any of us bother waiting until the next election cycle for squat? Someone does something we don’t like, just recall them, and spend all that money on another election that was created just for the sake of having an election instead of waiting for the election.

It’s one of those technicality things, and it’s just a gross abuse of a rule. If you really dislike the person in office, and they really are doing things you don’t like, then don’t vote for them next time and do whatever you want to try to convince other people not to vote for them.

That’s supposed to be how it works, right? And targeting a governor, when it’s the legislature that passes the freaking laws, is just a piece of the puzzle anyway.

Recall elections just stink to high heaven of “sour grapes.” It seems to me that the basis of the tactic is, if you don’t like the result of an election, just force new ones over and over until people get tired of voting and/or you catch them off-guard.

And then the next step is probably court challenges to the vote, right? I mean, unless Scott Walker wins by a 99/1 margin, some jackass is going to cry foul play, take the vote to court and hold up the ratification of it until they can “find” a bunch of ballots that decide the election in their favor.

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7 thoughts on “I Don’t Recall This

  1. Your argument is obviously much stronger for an elected official with a 1 or 2 year term, but the purpose of the recall election is to get rid of someone that’s really screwing up but not quite breaking laws. Only if they break laws will the House commence impeachment proceedings, followed by trial in the Senate. (I’m describing the federal system. Some states differ in the details.) A recall is a much more expensive process, which keeps it reserved for only the most egregious of cases, but with political discourse having deteriorated to the level it has, I’m not surprised it’s now being used as a political tactic. (Blame Republicans for the attacks on Clinton in the 90s.) If you’re looking at 2 more years of the behavior, as well as a 2-year opportunity to cover up your wrongdoing, it might not be worth allowing them to continue in office. In theory, it’s a sensible process, and it’s good we don’t see it often, but it certainly shouldn’t be used for political gain. Nevertheless, I’m afraid this will actually inspire a few more recall elections in “purple” states with governors facing decreased popularity.

    On a related note, your observation that the recall vote springs from ignorance of how our government works rings true. I wrote a long piece about it recently (using the presidential election process, not the recall election process, as my example), but tabled it because I’m sick of how no one seems willing to listen to any argument that isn’t telling them what they want to hear. There’s no point in arguing if no one’s listening. Because of your comment, I’ll probably publish it to my rbodine blog. You won’t be able to say I’m not trying.

  2. I’ve been watching this Scott Walker recall election on CNN for about 7 hours now. I’ve heard Kessel Junkie’s concerns about the concept of a special election echoed by both the left and the right, and I really want to respond to what a lot of these political experts are saying. Unfortunately, a comment on KesselJunkie.com will have to do, so please pay attention you 10 people. I expand on what I wrote above.

    Recall elections serve an important place in our political process. Like anything, they can be abused, and that’s what’s happened in Wisconsin, but that doesn’t sway me against they’re existence. If a politician commits a crime, the impeachment/conviction process resolves it (relatively cheaply, I might add). If you elect an [X]-wing (see what I did there?) politician, and he governs from the [X] (this is what’s happened in Wisconsin), then you should simply stick it out. We aren’t talking about 10- year terms; we’re talking about 2- or 4-year terms, and if you elected an [X]-winger and got what you wanted, you should save the economy some money and not waste it on your sour grapes.

    There’s a small sliver of factual circumstances in between those two situations. That is, there are legal actions that a politician can take that warrant his or her reevaluation. For example. what if the politician’s family members own several businesses that are getting all the government contracts? If these are legitimate businesses, then no one award of a contract can be seen as illegal, or even inadvisable, but on the whole, it’s troublesome.

    Perhaps a little weaker of an example is a politician that breaks promises. What if you elect an [X]-wing politician, but he governs from the [Y]? Yes, the resulting recall election would be “all about politics,” but we’re talking politics. You can’t remove the politics from politics. In this case, the political concern is legitimate, and it speaks to the trustworthiness of a person in whom the public has placed its trust. I’d say that this certainly qualifies as justification for a recall election.

    One reason you could reasonably disagree, however, is that there’s no way to enforce this. How do you evaluate whether people are requesting the recall on the basis of legitimate public concerns or sour grapes? I’ve accused the supporters of the Wisconsin recall election of sour grapes, but do I really know that with 100% certainty? I haven’t even been to Wisconsin since 1998, and I certainly haven’t immersed myself in this particular recall election until tonight.

    The fact that recalls are so rare keeps me on the side of keeping them legal. (I haven’t even considered whether they’re constitutionally required by the Wisconsin state constitution.) The abuse that’s occurred in Wisconsin concerns me, as I suspect it might encourage similar tactics (from both the right and left) in other states. Until that happens, though, I won’t stand against their existence. Again, reasonable minds can disagree.

    Side note: There was an adult guy interviewed by CNN about 30 minutes ago. He broke into tears, claiming that their election was sold out by outside money. While I’d love to discuss Citizens United with the guy to help him see the light :-), let’s assume that this outspending indeed cost Mayor Barrett the election. So what? It’s a bit hard to sympathize with someone about a corrupt process when that person inappropriately invoked it in the first place. Also, keep in mind that this devastating event wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t a recall election. There’s rare enough outside money spent on elections when they’re occurring across the country at the same time. The only reason outside money could have any significant impact is because this was a single election occurring by itself, and a presidential election is on its heels.

    You picked this fight and lost. Move on, cry-baby.

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