Sunday, June 24, 2012
The Power of Money
Before I learned about the ad I learned that poll takers had found an opinion among a few Wisconsin voters that the recall was not the right thing to do just because of a political difference. Apparently the ad had a small but sufficient effect on the voters to enable Governor Walker to beat the recall.
I would like very much to talk with one of these Wisconsin voters who thought the recall was not an appropriate way to get rid of a governor who makes bad decisions, or at least decisions that the voter strongly disagrees with. I would ask this voter two questions: (1) What is the purpose of the recall provision? (2) How should one go about getting rid of such a governor?
It seems to me that the voters who thought the recall inappropriate were confusing the recall of a public official in a State or local jurisdiction with the impeachment of a President. A President can be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors. We do not impeach a President simply because we disagree with him. The purpose of the recall is different. If a governor is accused of high crimes and misdemeanors he is arrested, put in jail, and tried, just like any ordinary crook. The neighbor State of Illinois provided examples of that procedure with its treatment of two recent Governors. Recall is a political tool, just like the referendum and initiative which provide means of enacting or rescinding unpopular laws. The recall is a tool for getting rid of an unpopular official during his normal term of office.
The moral of this fable is that enough money spent in the right way can fool enough people to influence an election. A subsidiary moral is that the voters of Wisconsin should take a refresher course in High School civics and learn again the purpose of the direct election procedures we borrowed a century ago from Europe: the initiative, the referendum, and the recall. According to my recollection they were borrowed from Switzerland.