Vox Populi
A Letter to the Editor
 
 

Your "Response to the Collective Political Insanity Commentary"
Sunday, September 28, 2003

by Ed Spence

[References: Vox Populi of 9 September 2003 - "A Response to the Collective Political Insanity Commentary" by Daryle Hendricksen; and California Gubernatorial Recall Election -Ed.]

Don't you think something smells of sour grapes when this rich Republican, who lost the election, pays over one million dollars to finance a Recall election? Not because the Governor did anything illegal, immoral or unscrupulous but because the rich Republican thinks somebody else can do a better job. That stinks and is "undermining our democratic institutions"! The right thing to do is "vote-the-bum-out", not buy a new election and "vote-the-bum-out".

Your approach, regardless of the obvious stench, is, if you don't like the rules, change them or better put, if it's legal to buy a new election, so be it.

Ed Spence


Mr. Berg-Andersson respond:

Mr. Spence's comments seem to be as much meant for Mr. Hendricksen as they are for me but let me take this opportunity to respond on my own behalf:

The Recall provisions were ultimately placed in the California Constitution by the vote of the People of that State, though admittedly, and- yes- most theoretically, the People of that State of voting age [21 back then] as they constituted the California "body politic" in 1911. Since the youngest person who could have legally voted for this provision was born in 1890, I dare say that- some 113 years later- not a one of them is alive today! Nevertheless, when any constitutional provision is adopted in the name of "the People", it is- for all intents and purposes- as if those who make up "the People" long after its adoption are as much a party to said provision as they who actually adopted it: this is an essential element of the political theory behind basic Republican Democracy (and I don't here mean Democracy as interpreted/applied by a member of the US Republican Party or a Republic as interpreted/applied by a member of the US Democratic Party: I refer here only to a specific political system, one based on a principle of representative government within somewhat limited democratically-determined input from those who make up "the People" at any given time-- a political theory, by the way, to which both Major Parties, along with a whole slew of Minor "Third" Parties- with the likely exception of a few "fringe" political groups quite far to the Right and to the Left, all claim to adhere!) Where, then, is the changing of rules one does not like? All that those who support the recall of Governor Davis did, in the end, was to merely utilize the very "rules" that the Constitution of California itself gave them!

Mr. Spence may not like the fact that these rules actually were used, he may not much like the political ideology of those who so used them-- but I myself have attended many a baseball game where one of those in the batting order for the opponents of my team has hit a home run late in the game which put my team behind and I didn't like it one bit! However, as long as there were less than three outs in the inning, the batter didn't bat out of turn and the ball sailed over the outfield wall between the foul poles, the runs scored as a result of that home run all counted: there was nothing in that home run being hit (or even the fact that the player who hit it was in the lineup!) that at all "undermined the institutions of Baseball", for there was no change in the rules-- we in the ballpark, regardless of for whom we were rooting, all knew what the rules were before the game had even started.

Likewise, anyone who wished to could have gained access to a copy of the Constitution of California and the California Election Code (we have links on this very web site through which one can access same!) and learned what the rules were before the first signature on the first Recall petition that circulated was even dry. Mr. Spence may not at all like the fact that Gray Davis can be recalled from office within a year of having been re-elected but the "rules" of the California political system do allow for that fact: those who "donít like the rules" and who seek to change them in midstream are, therefore, those who are opposed to this Recall Election even taking place (and I want to make it clear that I accept that there is a significant difference between those who per se don't want Governor Davis to be recalled and those who think that, somehow, the possibility of Recall Election itself- as an institution- is something inherently nefarious). Yes, one may not like what Mr. Spence calls a "rich Republican" being able to use these rules in the first place but the rules are there in the Constitution and Laws of the State, they were used and the mere using of such rules (regardless of the motives behind the Recall petition drive)- themselves a part of the democratic system of California (after all, who signed all those petitions?)- cannot possibly be undermining it!

Simply put: if you are a Californian and you don't at all like the rich (of whatever Party or ideology!) buying, as Mr. Spence claims is being done here, a new election, then change the system through the methodologies your own State's Constitution allows to you in order to make said change! Whining about the fact that a Gubernatorial Recall Election will be occurring in California this coming Tuesday 7 October (regardless of the political motivation, or lack thereof, behind it) is merely yet more confusing Action [though, in this case, the only "action" seems to be the complaining] with Accomplishment. Realize, though, that there are going to be those- persons who, after all, have the same right of Free Speech and Right to Vote of which you would be availing should you seek to repeal or reform Recall- who will, for their own reasons, strongly oppose you in such an endeavor and that your right to agitate for repeal of Recall or at least a reworking of it so that a Recall Election such as that about to be held in a little over a week can never take place in quite the way this one happens to now be occurring does not give you the right to actually succeed in your endeavor!

Therefore, the fact that the Recall provision exists in the Constitution of the State of California in and of itself makes it part and parcel of that which the People of that State (even though none of those who actually voted on it back in 1911 are around these days) consider to be their Democracy today: if the People of California find the Recall Election system somehow onerous as a result of how it happens to be used this particular Fall of 2003, they most surely have it in their power- through their elected representatives if not through Initiative and Referendum (permitted in California under the same Constitution that permits Recall) of their own making, as well as through the requirement that constitutional amendments cannot become part of the California Constitution unless they are voted upon favorably by, yes, the People- to outright repeal- or, if not repeal, at least reform- the manner in which Recall is done on a statewide basis. Therefore, one certainly cannot well argue that Recall, in and of itself, is "undermining our democratic institutions" and, thus, there can be no "stench" merely from the fact that the device of Recall happens to be found within the California political system and, further, actually was used in the instant case! Claiming that this- as an electoral device- is "undermining our democratic institutions" can only be a claim made by those who themselves do not really believe in the efficacy of those very democratic institutions!!

We now must examine where Mr. Spence writes:

Donít you think something smells of sour grapes when this rich Republican, who lost the election, pays over one million dollars to finance a Recall election? Not because the Governor did anything illegal, immoral or unscrupulous but because the rich Republican thinks somebody else can do a better job.

Problem is: it is not Mr. Spence's right- solely as an individual- to alone determine whether or not the present Governor of California did, or did not, do "anything illegal, immoral or unscrupulous": that is the right of the People of the State of California of 7 October 2003 through their Collective Will as expressed via their votes! The "rich Republican"- as Mr. Spence has called him- has now gotten his Recall Election through the rules provided him to achieve same: if he was wrong in so doing, the voters of California certainly now have an opportunity to not recall Governor Davis and, should they vote to not recall the Governor, the "over million dollars" this "rich Republican" spent will have been wasted-- we all can then truly say that 'a Fool and his Money are soon parted' and subsequently move on.

But what if the majority of the California voters should happen to disagree with Mr. Spence? What if the majority feels that Governor Davis has done something, say, illegal- or immoral- or unscrupulous- or any two of these things- or, for that matter, all three? How is their expression of such a feeling on their part while in the voting booth, once a Recall Election has been authorized, the least bit undemocratic?! Again, how is this an "undermining of our democratic institutions"?

"Sour grapes"??!!... any "sour grapes" right now seem to be found more within the vineyards of those upset that a recall of Governor Davis soon might actually become a reality. But there is a way to stop it-- by becoming part of a majority who vote in California against recalling that State's Governor come 7 October... after all, that is Democracy and that is what should be the essence of Politics in America!

Yes, I suppose: "if it's legal to buy a new election, so be it"... but if you want to make sure that this doesn't happen, then work to make sure- as every citizen has the right to do through the political/electoral process in this Nation, his/her State and his/her local political jurisdictions below the State level- that the constitutional "rules" don't at all allow for it... but don't complain about (and, further, claim an undermining of Democracy in regards to) the fact that these "rules" did allow for it!...

You don't like Recall in California? Amend your State Constitution!

 


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