Fix the recall statute
June 6, 2012
Conservative activists will be tempted to try turning Democrats’ recall tactics against them, and harass left-leaning officeholders over any policy dispute that seems opportune. Democrats richly deserve such treatment. The people of Wisconsin don’t.
It’s worth remembering that last year’s recall fever included grassroots conservatives seeking to remove from office some of the state senate Democrats who fled Wisconsin to sabotage the operation of the Legislature.
Those who initiated that effort can’t be faulted for holding their Senators accountable. Public officials who hide in another state to avoid doing their jobs ought to be thrown out.
But that’s a very different thing from seeking to negate a lawful election simply because a duly elected official pursues altogether predictable policies. Accountability for policy choices is the reason we have regular elections. Democrats, and more specifically the government unions that dictate Democrats’ behavior, have wantonly violated that principle this year and last. Republicans should not imitate them, but rather put an end to their juvenile antics.
Most of the people of Wisconsin understand the recall as a remedy necessarily available but rarely used, and designed to expeditiously remove officials who commit actual crimes in the conduct of their duties or somehow blatantly violate their oath of office.
Regrettably, the statutory language fails to set this standard. We’ve now seen how openly it invites abuse by mindless political vandals.
In the 2011-12 Legislature, State Rep. Robin Vos (R-Caledonia) proposed a constitutional amendment to make the recall do what most people think it ought to do. It passed the Assembly and died in the Senate. Assigning high priority to such a reform in 2013 would help defend the integrity of Wisconsin elections. Republicans who pursue it would earn the thanks of honest voters.