The aimless musings of a guys whose bright ideas evaporate when commited to paper. Things that rattle around in my head include, life, politics, things Korean and of course variety meats.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Reprehensible Democracy

I don't care for direct democracy. Whew, there, I've gotten it off my chest, the truth is out. Good policy is often unpopular (and "free ice cream for everyone!" is no way to run a government at any level). My personal preference is for structural changes that lower fiscal and electoral barriers to citizen involvement, thereby allowing the development of legislative bodies that accurately reflect the range of views of the polity they represent (more on all this some other time).
While initiatives and referenda (note the plural) have their place (e.g. constitutional amendment ratification), I have very little positive to say about the recall. Now it's possible for this to be read as a comment on recent or less recent history but I believe I can defend my opinion. Much like Gaul, the misbehavior of politicians can be divided into three parts; legal, ethical and political. Legal violations should be dealt with in the courts, ethical breaches should be addressed by ethics panels (legislative committees or independent agencies) and perceived political shortcomings should be remedied by voting the official out of office (confusing, isn't it?).
Recall elections are not likely to go away anytime soon, but it would not be difficult to improve them. Michigan law (PDF) is pretty reasonable as these things go. The number of signatures required is 25% of the votes cast in the previous election and recalls are banned in the first and last six months of an official's term. Its one shortcoming is a lack of criteria for recalls. While the language of each recall petition must be submitted to an elections board, the board only reviews the clarity of the petition (whether it says what it means), not its accuracy (whether what it says is true) or its appropriateness (whether the complaint warrants this remedy). Establishing a standard of review (e.g. crime, incompetence, failure to perform the duties of the office, violation of the oath of office) and empowering the elections board to enforce it could significantly reduce the frequency of recall elections in this state.


Blogger Kieren said...

Dude! You actually posted! It took me a while to get around to reading it however. :)

6/14/2008 4:36 PM


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