The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Robert Heinlein wrote an essay in which he listed means by which democracy could be improved. Heinlein threw any idea he could think of on the wall to see what would stick: Restricting the vote to women, charging money for votes, requiring voters to solve a quadratic equation. Here's my suggestion: Ask a prospective voter if he or she was influenced to vote by a newspaper editorial. If the answer is "yes," send that person home and place them on the waiting list for "Donated organs, brains."

Today's San Jose Mercury News opinion page masthead editorial opposes the recall. Remember as you read on that there are a whole committee of people paid real money to compose this drivel.

The recall is wrongheaded even though Gray Davis has been a mediocre governor. The indictment against him is familiar: budget mismanagement, perpetual fundraising, a personality that not only distances him from the voters but also limits his effectiveness with the Legislature.

The indictment fails to mention that Davis has championed major increases in education funding, protection for the environment, and a hard line against crime -- all of which are priorities Californians tell pollsters they endorse.

"Davis has championed major increases in education funding." Yes, blockheads, that's why we have a budget deficit. What do these people think their readers have for brains? Oatmeal? "I am voting to recall Davis because the state has a huge deficit." "But Davis championed major increases in education funding." "He greatly increased spending? Well I guess I was wrong about that budget deficit. Thanks for letting me know!"

I'm also glad to see that the Merc editorial board doesn't have to deal with rude concepts like quantities. "All that money was spent fighting crime, which is one of your priorities, so move along." If I hire a servant to do my grocery shopping, and tell him beer is a priority, do I lose my right to complain when he spends my life's savings on a Sierra Nevada bottling facility?

But even if all of the charges against Davis are true, they don't add up to a case for dumping him mid-term. After all, the federal budget is in trouble, and Republicans are aggressive fundraisers as well.

I look forward to next year's Mercury News endorsement of George W. Bush for president. Is it too much to ask that the Merc editorial writers, who exude high-mindedness and deliberation, to refrain from tu quoque?

While California's Constitution permits a recall any time enough petitions get signed, it ought to be reserved for graver offenses.

Already California is hobbled by partisan division. Where once the opposing parties sometimes looked to find common ground, they now seize every opportunity for sabotage. A recall will usher in more scorched-earth politics, including more recalls undertaken in retaliation.

Californians have had the ability to recall their governor for nearly a century. Every single governor has been the target of a recall petition. Doesn't that suggest that we will not have a recall every year from here on out?

And isn't California a strongly Democratic state? If the recall is a partisan endeavor, how can it be polling 60-65%?

This is my favorite anti-recall argument:

Voting ``no'' on the recall affirms the importance of predictable elections.

Boy, talk about parochial! Are there any free countries that don't fix the date of their elections, and can oust their leaders at any time? Only every other democracy in the entire world.



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