I do a guest turn at Real Clear Politics today to discuss the Walker recall. I think of the recall the same way as the Republican push for impeachment of President Clinton – an act where political restraint gets tossed out the window and we’re worse off for it because our system is not set up for politics by any means necessary.
Next Tuesday, voters in Wisconsin decide whether to recall their governor — Republican Scott Walker. A successful recall petition earlier this year gives them a choice between the incumbent and Democrat Tom Barrett, a former congressman, Wisconsin state legislator, and the current mayor of Milwaukee. Walker is, of course, best known for pushing through a package of public sector reforms eliminating various collective bargaining rules in Wisconsin. In the process he bitterly divided his state and poisoned the well for a vital national conversation about public sector reform by viscerally pitting public sector workers against other citizens. Barrett seems, as evidenced by his political career, likely to be a better and more moderate governor. Despite that, count me among those who disapprove of Walker but who also don’t think he should be recalled.
Most of the commentary about the recall (aside from the abundance of passionate feelings about Walker himself) focuses on its political wisdom. Was it a good decision by organized labor and Democrats to pursue it? What will it mean for the presidential race in the swing state of Wisconsin? Politically pertinent questions, sure, but the bigger picture matters more. In the long run what should concern us is the governmental wisdom of this kind of recall. Are recalls based on policy choices even a good idea? Barring corruption or incapacity to govern, shouldn’t elections at least settle who holds an office for a fixed period of time? In our already poisonous politics, are recalls poised to become one more weapon in our ongoing total political war?
Recalls take effort, clicking doesn’t, so you can read the entire op-ed here at RCP.