Tuesday, October 4, 2011

To limit number of recalls, limit the NEED for them

Raising the threshold for signatures not the right direction to take

There are even more calls for changing the recall elections process, this time from conservative blogger James Wigderson.

Wigderson is concerned because, unless something is changed, Wisconsin could enter a never-ending election season:
So recalls have gotten easier and threaten to get easier still. If something is not done, we may enter a period of permanent election campaigning in Wisconsin.
To his credit, Wigderson recognizes the problem that comes with the proposed constitutional amendment authored by Republican Rep. Robin Vos. Says Wigderson:
Unfortunately, if we are limited to Vos’ parameters for recall, we are limiting ourselves to levels of conduct that should compel the Legislature to remove the member without waiting for the recall.
Precisely. An issue that shouldn't be partisan -- recalls serve a purpose beyond solely removing elected officials for misconduct.

But Wigderson's remedy is only slightly better than Vos's, if only because it doesn't limit the reason for a recall. Instead, he'd rather increase the already-high signature threshold to start a recall:
If the constitution were changed to allow a recall only in those cases where the organizers were able to get a majority of those who voted in the last election to sign the petition, then we would go back to limiting recalls to those cases that truly require them.
That, too, would severely curtail the number of recalls this state would see, but at the expense of creating an unrealistic threshold that would equal the amount needed to win an election anyway.

Conservatives in our state, whether they want to change the threshold for/the terms of a recall, miss the point entirely: Wisconsin doesn't HAVE to enter a constant state of election madness. Consider this radical notion: Why were the recalls initiated? Perhaps it was because lawmakers failed to listen to their constituents.

When hundreds of thousands of protesters are knocking at your office doors, pleading with you to vote "no" on a bill, what do you think the response is going to be when you ignore them?

It's not possible to vote every time in a way that will make your voters happy. But recognizing when it's in your best interest to do so is why the recalls were implemented in the first place: to remove lawmakers that fail to listen to the people in ways that go beyond the expectations of representative democracy.

It's not surprising that recalls, which were established as a Progressive-era response to "big money's" influence in politics, were initiated this year when "big money" called in a favor from Walker & Co. Voting your conscience is one thing, but voting your pocketbook (or your campaign coffers) is an entirely different can of worms, one that itself warrants a recall.

It's also deeply troubling that Republicans, who are all of the sudden concerned with the costs of recalls for the state, instigated a plan that increased their cost by hundreds of thousands of dollars by running "fake" Democratic candidates to force recall primaries -- not to mention the nearly $6 million in costs to implement an unnecessary voter ID law.

There's no need for changing recall process, either in the number of signatures needed or the reasons behind having a recall itself. If conservatives are concerned about "permanent election campaigning," they should focus on eliminating the need for them in the first place.

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