Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Recall Elections=Dumb

Wisconsin, you voted for Republican Governor Scott Walker in 2010, and you just doubled down on him last night. Live with him.

Recall elections are an absolutely ridiculous idea.  I don't care who the person is that you're recalling, and, if anyone deserved it, it was Scott Walker, but I believe recall elections are too prone to adhere to the will of the given moment rather than what's best overall for a state.

Can you imagine, for example, if it were possible to recall a President?  One side or the other would always be trying to recall the Commander-in-Chief.

Wisconsin Governor
Scott Walker
For removal of a politician, impeachment is the way to go.  Impeachment isn't some willy nilly idea that you can just right a wrong election.  It implies at least some level of criminal misconduct.

Taking the federal model, there are hearings in the House and a trial in the Senate with the Chief Justice presiding.  The House has impeached two Presidents, but they were both acquitted in the Senate.  Nixon, in all likelihood would have been a third and would have been removed from office if he had not resigned.

Impeachment is not immune from politics.  Both impeachments that have occurred in U.S. history had the ugly taste of politics involved.  Andrew Johnson was impeached over Reconstruction, and Bill Clinton was impeached essentially over lying about an affair. The acquittals in the Senate safeguarded democracy in both cases.

Impeachment is not a recall, and it's not about elections.  Elections are about selecting the right candidate.  When a greater number of people vote for one candidate over another, then that person should be able to govern.  Elections have consequences, and, in my opinion, you don't get a redo when you vote.  If a majority of the voters or, in some cases, a plurality of the voters vote someone in, then that person wins the election and is entitled to serve for that term.  No do overs.  Period.  No recallls.  Period.  If you want to beat someone, work hard for his or her opponent and make sure that person is voted out next time he or she is up for election.

Recall elections have a long history in this country and around the world, but I believe they are exercises in ridiculousness.

3 comments:

Eric said...

You're spot one. Scott Walker was elected, and despite his obscene political program, had a right to govern his full term, absent some impeachable offense (as you suggest). I have been consistent on this, having opposed the recall of California Governor Gray Davis on similar grounds.

Aside from what's right and wrong,
this could have adverse POLITICAL
consequences beyond Wisconsin's borders, perhaps weakening the labor movement across the Midwest.
Additionally, it has turned Wisconsin from a sure "give me" for Obama into a battleground in play for Romney. The lesson: choose your battles carefully!

I don't believe Indiana has the right of recall - thank goodness.

Paul K. Ogden said...

By my count, 18 states have recall. Indiana does not.

FYI, although they use crimnal terms when discussing impeachment in the Constitution, ("treason, bribery and high crimes and misdemeanors)" "misdemeanors" wasn't intended necessarily to mean the wrongdoing had to be criminal.

Andrew Johnson, I don't believe was accused of doing anything criminal and he was impeached and came one vote from being removed in the Senate.

In fact, the standard for impeachment for federal judges in the Constitution is not "treason, bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors," but rather (the failure to exshibit) "good behavior" while on the bench. Attorney Mark Small insists that the "good behavior" judicial impeachment language should be interpreted as "treason, bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors." Apparently he thinks that by the time the Framers got to Article III (Judiciary), they got tired of writig out "treason, bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors" and simply wrote "good behavior" instead.

Mark used some illicit substances in college though that have damaged the part of the brain that deals with rationalilty and common sense. I'm pretty confident my recall of the Federalist Papers is that Hamilton (or maybe it was Madison) specifically pointed to the "good behavior" language as a lower impeachment standard that would allow federal judges to be easily removed from office. That of course did not prove to be accurate.

Paul K. Ogden said...

By my count, 18 states have recall. Indiana does not.

FYI, although they use crimnal terms when discussing impeachment in the Constitution, ("treason, bribery and high crimes and misdemeanors)" "misdemeanors" wasn't intended necessarily to mean the wrongdoing had to be criminal.

Andrew Johnson, I don't believe was accused of doing anything criminal and he was impeached and came one vote from being removed in the Senate.

In fact, the standard for impeachment for federal judges in the Constitution is not "treason, bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors," but rather (the failure to exshibit) "good behavior" while on the bench. Attorney Mark Small insists that the "good behavior" judicial impeachment language should be interpreted as "treason, bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors." Apparently he thinks that by the time the Framers got to Article III (Judiciary), they got tired of writig out "treason, bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors" and simply wrote "good behavior" instead.

Mark used some illicit substances in college though that have damaged the part of the brain that deals with rationalilty and common sense. I'm pretty confident my recall of the Federalist Papers is that Hamilton (or maybe it was Madison) specifically pointed to the "good behavior" language as a lower impeachment standard that would allow federal judges to be easily removed from office. That of course did not prove to be accurate.