Monday, August 11, 2003

I think recall, initiative, and referendum elections are absolutely ridiculous, a system of procedures thought up during the Progressive / Populist era that should have been tossed out with all that other lefty World War One-era crap like the laws which restricted banks to only one state or the various laws against chain stores or, for God's sake, Prohibition.

My major problem with this system is that it smacks of too much democracy. Yep, you heard me right, too much direct democracy. We are a representative democracy, which means you vote for the people who make the laws; you don't make the laws yourself.

The purpose of representation is that one person is elected to be the voice of everybody in an area, and then all the people's elected representatives get together and make laws, restricted by the Constitution. What this does is eliminate the "Let's kill Socrates" danger of mobocracy.

It is also supposed to allow the elected representatives a certain amount of time to make policies work; you're elected for two or four or six years and one of the consequences of this is political stability rather than the indecisiveness of a government that can be thrown out on a whim. Recall elections make it impossible for political leaders to implement unpopular but necessary policies.

Recall, initiative, and referendum are all procedures that interfere with the functioning of representative democracy. Initiative and referendum takes the right to legislate away from the legislature and puts it in direct popular hands. Recall allows an unpopular elected official (not one who has behaved criminally--crooks shouldn't be removed by recall, they should be removed by impeachment and prosecution) to be removed before the end of his term.

The only thing I ever learned in philosophy class was Immanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative. It says, more or less, that any action you do that you wouldn't be willing for anybody else to do is immoral. Would you be willing to live in a society where everybody pissed in the street? No, you wouldn't, so your pissing in the street is unethical.

Would we be willing to have the President subjected to recall elections? Are you nuts? Of course not. Adams, Madison, and JQA would all have been recalled. Lincoln would have been recalled in 1862. Truman would have been recalled in 1951. The Seventies would have been a series of recall elections. Reagan might very well have been recalled in 1982 and 1987, and Clinton might have been in 1994 and certainly would have been in 1998. Right now there would be plenty of leftists willing to sign a Recall Bush petition. Boy, that'd give the world confidence in steady, responsible American leadership. What it would do is require the President to follow the polls slavishly, much more so than they do now.

Since we don't want recall elections for President, we don't want them for any other post, either. If you still don't like your elected representative when regular election time comes around, that's when you speak out against him and support some other candidate.

The Europeans are having a lovely time making fun of this California circus, which is what they're calling it and what it is. For once the Vanguardia is right when it bashes America. I don't care how much you hate Gray Davis, he did get elected governor, he is not a crook so you can't impeach him, and he gets to serve out his term. That's the way it ought to work, anyway.

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