Normally this would be a “comment,” but I spent so much time on it, I wanted it as a main heading. I apologize in advance for my vanity.
The recall, in my opinion, undermines the accountability of voters, telling them in effect that they can have a do-over whenever they mess things up by electing the wrong guy.
That may sound like a joke, but it’s actually a central tenet of democracy.
This is absolutely false. If he was just a comedian making a joke, then we could forgive his moronic comment concerning the nature of “accountability.” But he’s a well travelled and well educated man, and should know better. True, he does think that re-call votes are “democratic.” However, he back tracks from this by calling them “too democratic,” which is an absurd notion. Here’s why:
A re-call is one of only a few mechanisms of accountability that citizens have. There are many forms of democracy. American democracy is unique in that a “no-confidence” vote can come directly from the citizenry, whereas in most democracies (which are parliamentarian democracies), no-confidence votes can only originate from the parliament (what would be “congress” in the American system). Therefore, the re-call is as central to democracy and as much a mechanism of accountability as the non-recall vote of general elections.
Further, Jonah says:
Politicians and parties must be held accountable for their past mistakes if they are going to be relied upon to fulfill their promises in the future.
Yes, that is a fundamental premise of accountability. And this is exactly what a re-call vote can do.
Jonah does not define what he means by “too democratic.” Would he have one of the few mechanisms of accountability taken away? I suppose he means that re-call votes undermine his version of “democracy.” Please consider this: we live in a country where incumbents seeking re-election win about 90 percent of the time. We should be thankful that re-call votes exist as a direct form of accountability. Re-calls serve as an indirect measure, too. Political science theory suggests that incumbent behavior is linked to the fear of losing the next election (sort of strange considering their very high re-election percentage). Re-call votes add an additional fear element to incumbents who might now be more inclined to act more responsively, more often, and not just in the liberal hour.
Re-call IS democratic and there can be no such thing as “too democratic.”
p.s. The “liberal hour” refers to the short period of time right before a general election. Incumbents seeking re-election at this time are more apt to vote on legislation that redistributes money to social welfare causes such as raising minimum wage, spending money on welfare programs, etc. This is a well-known finding and it applies to both conservative and liberal incumbents.