PROGRESSIVE RECALL?

Terry Eastland notes some interesting byproducts of the California recall:

Ironies abound in the recall story. Consider that Democrats are the ideological heirs of the Progressives, and yet the recall targets a Democrat who presides over a government made large over the years by its faithful response to the people’s demands. Consider, too, that the Republican party initiated the recall of Davis, and yet its intellectual allies have long warned against the dangers of direct democracy.

In the case of the recall, they have warned that its initial, successful use against a governor might lead to its use against the governor of the opposite party–and then continued partisan use after that. The concern is that the recall would induce timidity in the executive when energy and statesmanship are needed. In California, the executive isn’t a constitutionally strong office.

Still, those concerns have yielded to the desire to use an available instrument and evict Davis. The instrument is being wielded not against corporate power, as the Progressives imagined, for that isn’t the problem in California, but against a big government that is manifestly a bad government.

“The present recall effort,” writes Glenn Ellmers of California’s Claremont Institute, “could have the paradoxical effect of prompting new debate about the purpose and limits of government.” And indeed it could, especially if the voters elect a governor committed to using the line-item veto and standing athwart the unions and other interests whose demands inevitably must be paid for by the taxpayers of the state. In 60 days, we will have a better idea about California’s future.

If nothing else, this should all cause some much-needed debate and thinking about the nature of governance.

(Hat tip: Reductio ad Absurdum)

FILED UNDER: US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.