The Democrats' Recall Bomb
Over the next week, we're going to hear a lot, good or bad but not indifferent, about the Wisconsin recall elections. To recapitulate: the climax of last winter's wild and lengthy campaign against Gov. Scott Walker's public-employee reforms was a threat to recall a number of state representatives who had voted in favor of the bill. The Wisconsin left carried out the threat and now the day of reckoning is at hand. (A smaller number of Democrats who fled to Illinois to deprive the state Senate of a quorum were also hit with recall petitions.)
The question of the public employee bill was settled permanently by the State Supreme Court last week in a decision that overthrew Judge Maryann Sumi's attempt to interfere with implementation of Walker's reform plan. But the recall elections are still hanging over Wisconsin's politicians. The left-liberals have got themselves a new political weapon.
Democrat inability to prevail at the ballot box has led to tactics of desperation. Falling numbers of Democratic voters (the number of registered Democrats stands at just over 43% today, scarcely a plurality) have loosened the hold of Democratic political machines across the country, letting light and air into districts that have not been part of the country's culture of democracy for generations. As a result, we have seen the introduction of all sorts of novel electoral tactics, usually backroom stuff that would be familiar to Boss Tweed and Frank Hague: endless recounts spiced up by ballots appearing out of quantum black holes, opponents being denied places on the ballot by legal action (a Cook County special strongly endorsed by none other than Barack Obama), voting by felons and illegal immigrants. Frivolous recall elections are simply the latest of these.
A recall election is one of those things in which the perpetrators win even if they lose. An incumbent surviving a recall has wasted money, time, and energy, has suffered diversion from his actual work, and must deal with the bad publicity inevitably arising from the effort. Recall elections have no apparent downside for the left; it's a wonder they haven't been using them all along.
If successful in Wisconsin, we can expect hundreds if not thousands of attempted recalls across the country, on any pretext or none. It will become a standard part of the electoral cycle, much the same as accusations of fraud and frivolous lawsuits have since the 2000 presidential election. Fraud accusations, legal action, and demands for recounts that can be manipulated each have had some success, but each has limitations as well. With the bogus recall, leftists are obviously hoping to have found a political neutron bomb that can be used at will with no damage to them.
Current such efforts are not limited to Wisconsin. In Arizona, a campaign to recall Russell Pearce, the worst enemy of illegal immigration in this country, has been kicked off with some success. Pearce is the man who stood up to both the illegals and their enablers on this side of the border -- not forgetting the ones in the White House. He is close to being the indispensable man on this issue. And that's the point: recalls can be used to target key figures who are otherwise invulnerable, from Michele Bachmann to Chris Christie. It's evident we're in the Spanish Civil War phase of this particular development cycle, in which the new weapons are tried out and perfected. Soon enough -- perhaps in 2012 -- our friends on the left will set out to invade Poland.
So what is our team doing about it? Not very much at all, it seems. The Republican National Committee has shown no sign of even being aware of the threat. The Northeast conservatives, evidently considering it to be some sort of Midwestern problem beneath their notice, are busily handicapping the 2012 election and have no time for lesser issues. It's all quite typical of the conservative establishment: look the other way until the ceiling falls in, then panic, then write policy papers telling somebody else what to do.
But what can be done? Wisconsin Republicans have hit on one solution: threatening Democratic pols with recalls of their own. The one thing that liberals have overlooked (they always overlook something) is that abusing the recall system creates a hostage situation as regards their own people. The left has forgotten that the political system on its most basic level operates on the principle of reciprocity -- you stick with the rules because if you break them, something will come straight through the hole you made and get you. This is a lesson that needs to be reiterated, by means of actual demonstration, as often as necessary. If you break out the nukes in a snowball fight, you will be made to pay for it. The Democrats have been flouting this truism since Bush v. Gore, if not earlier. They need their attention concentrated. Wisconsin's method is as good as any.
J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker. He is the author of Death by Liberalism, dismissed by Frank Rich as a "demented right wing screed."