Friday, August 29, 2003
I've decided to focus on one topic today, that being the California Recall. I have really been of two minds on the subject. On the one hand, it's a valid mechanism in California state government that has been properly enacted. Gray Davis deceived voters in the gubernatorial election and now they are rightly upset and willing to give him the heave-ho. On the other hand, it continues a dangerous precedent begun in the 2000 presidential election: that results don't count. Gray Davis may be a bust, but the voters of California asked for him. Caveat Emptor, people. By trying to nullify the election through the recall, a minority of voters is attempting to thwart the majority desire. That's a disturbing concept.
In the end, I don't like the recall mechanism. If the Governor has committed a crime, then there are legal steps to remove him from office. The only thing Davis is guilty of is incompetence. To allow a recall over that sets us down a road I don't think we should be following. Allowing 25% of the electorate to potentially deny the will of the voters is a form of tyranny that has no place in this country.
Which is another problem with recalls. And that is that too much of the electorate, quite frankly, is not sophisticated enough to understand the implications of this. Someone comes along and says, "Hey, do you hate Gray Davis? Sign this!" And the person does, thinking that he's really sticking it to Gray when all he's done is stick it to the electoral process. People who are calling this a triumph for democracy are either being ignorant or deceitful.
California, more than any other state, has a national influence through its actions. That can be seen through property tax reform, English immersion classes and more. Unfortunately, this also applies to the recall.
Already there is a similar movement to recall the governor of Nevada because of a tax hike. So now people want to change governors because of tax policy? What's next, starting a recall because your governor called Sept. 9 "Chocolate Chip Cookie Day" and you like macaroons? And of course there is the laughable Recall Bush movement, which completely misses the point. Instead of a tired tit-for-tat, which achieves NOTHING, perhaps they should focus their ire on this stupid recall mechanism and try to get it removed from the state constitution. But that would probably be too much work and then they couldn't sit around all day congratulating themselves on how clever they are.
So now California has to decide whether to chuck Davis. And if so, whom do you pick? Schwarzenegger has some good moderate views, but he is a neophyte at a time when the state is in crisis. Or do you pick Bustamante? Well, he's calling for $8B in new taxes and the state regulation of gasoline prices. Yow. If Bustamante can't understand that the problem in California is too much spending, an out-of-control worker's comp system and a negative business environment, and not gas prices, then he's more out of touch than Davis. Besides, you can't regulate prices on items bought by out-of-state consumers, such as gas. That's interstate commerce and is the purview of the federal, not state, government. Plus, it's just a stupid idea.
So what should Californians do? There is only one thing. They need to walk into that booth, hold their nose and decide to keep Gray Davis, that walking disaster of a governor. This nascent movement towards invalidating elections needs to stop now. In 1979, the US was a whole lot worse off than California is now. But no one thought "Hey, let's try to recall Carter" or developed some snarky movement that was oh-so clever. People just accepted the fact they elected a bust and corrected it in 1980. And California should do the same now.
Elections are the greatest expression of the freedom we enjoy in the United States. Abusing the recall mechanism devalues that freedom. In a way, this is no better than a third-world dictator ignoring an election result. Not happy that your candidate lost? Don't worry, just start a spite-influenced recall. Perpetual elections for all!!