A concept that makes our federal and state constitutions so remarkable, as well as provides the foundation of stable government, is that of checks and balances. In addition to those provided for each branch to “check the ambitions” of the other two, there exist checks on elected officials that are utilized directly by the people. These were codified in the form of frequent and fair elections as called for in the Constitution. This was the means by which the people were to hold responsible those they elect to office. Every time citizens don’t vote they absolve themselves of this responsibility. The California gubernatorial recall epitomizes this.
California governor Gray Davis’ administration has been an abject failure. Under his stewardship the state budget deficit has ballooned to over $30 billion, more than the other 49 states combined. Certainly fairness demands that the person in office when conditions erode should bear the responsibility. Gray Davis, having been governor since January of 1999, bears full responsibility for economic conditions there, as does the Democrat-dominated state assembly. Before my Democrat readership burst a collective blood vessel at the mention of this, I would remind them that they have no problem at all blaming President Bush for causing any current economic downturns despite the fact that the economy had already tanked during the last year of Clinton’s presidency.
In California, bad conditions as well as an enormous budget deficit existed last year when Gray Davis ran for re-election. Despite knowing this, the majority of the people re-elected him. Now, as polls and signatures show, many are having buyer’s remorse and have decided to hold a vote to remove him from office this October, a mere eleven months after they gave him a second term. While I would love to see Gray Davis go, I think the only recall that should occur is one aimed at the people of California for not repealing the recall law in the first place.
The entire idea of having checks on the system is to insulate the apparatus of government from being thrown into turmoil every time the people wake up on the wrong side of bed. In the words of Bill Maher, “the answer to that is not a Viennese weightlifter.” A responsible citizenry is.
Scott Wacholtz is a senior majoring in political science. He can be recalled at email@example.com.