Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Thought(s) on Wisconsin's Recall.

I am writing this on the morning of the Wisconsin recall election.  However because I want to make that nothing suppresses the vote of our Reader(s)™, I am not posting it until midnight.  By then, I assume everyone will have voted.  

The folks at the 538 election blog are not officially predicting that Governor Scott Walker will win but are suggesting that it seems likely that Governor Walker will win.  This strikes me as a good result.

I do not think that it is a good result because I think that Governor Walker has good policies.  Actually, I think he has bad policies.  To be fair, I do not know every one of Governor Walker's policies so there may be some that are good policies.  I can say that Wisconsin's state government has done a lot of things since Governor Walker took office that made me glad I no longer live in Wisconsin.  Also, there are allegations which suggest that Governor Walker's stint as Milwaukee County Executive involved breaking the law and that Governor Walker is the target of criminal investigations.  So, between bad policies and possible law breaking, if I were still living in Wisconsin I would probably not vote for Scott Walker.  In the interest of full disclosure, I did vote for Scott Walker when we were in college together.  That did not work out too well for him.

Given this, why would I think a win by Governor Walker would be a good thing?  Mostly because I think that recalling elected officials because you disagree with their policies is no way to run a state.  Elections are supposed to have consequences.  If they do not, because the losing side simply starts a recall effort as soon as possible, governments will be paralyzed from taking any action ever.  Presumably even the most ardent advocates of limited government would agree that there are some circumstances where action needs to take place.  Wisconsin's recall craze calls to mind California's obsession with ballot propositions.  As the Economist notes, this sort of direct democracy has been disastrous for California.  At a certain point, people need to let their elected representatives govern.

According to this, there have only been 3 recall elections of governors in U.S. history.  Does anyone think that if Tom Barrett won this election, the number would not change to 4?  A Mayor Barrett win would encourage people unhappy with that result to start a recall election of him as soon as they are allowed to do so. Wisconsin taxpayers are paying $18 million to fund this recall and would undoubtedly be paying a similar amount in 2013 or 2014 if Governor Walker loses.  Wisconsin has better ways to spend its money.

While a loss by Governor Walker will undoubtedly lead to another recall, I suspect that if Governor Walker wins, then the recall mania in Wisconsin will stop.  In the long run, Wisconsin will be better off with that result.

1 comment:

  1. I think your comments largely explain Walker's victory. In fact, the exit poll shows that only 27% of the voters last night thought that recalls are appropriate for any reason, while 70% said they were either never appropriate or only appropriate for official misconduct. (Strangely, 5% of the people who think recalls are "never appropriate" still voted for Barrett. When in Rome, I guess.)


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