When Maureen Dowd and Bill Safire both agree that California?s recall election is foolish, maybe that?s a good time to probe its merits. The Sacramento Bee?s Daniel Weintraub has a ringing message for the elites who dismiss the Golden State?s spastic exercise in direct democracy:
[T]he recall threatens to unlock the rooms in which California's power brokers have increasingly kept government and politics hostage, their own private game to which the public was neither invited nor welcome.
It's old news that you have to pay to play in Sacramento, especially in the governor's office. But fewer people have focused on the fact that elections themselves have been rigged to keep the public out. Legislative districts are drawn to discourage competition, and statewide races are run in ways designed to offend, and depress, all but the most committed voters. It's all a plot to keep the electorate under control, to ensure that results can be manipulated and predicted with scientific precision based on polling, focus groups and past results.
Not this time.
One of the close-the-barn-door criticisms of the Oct. 7 vote is that it could foreshadow a future of endless tit-for-tat recall elections; a related one (mouthed daily by Singapore Gray Davis) is that a handful of sinister rich Republicans are hijacking California?s political system. It is worth noting, in response, that the state has had an unpopular governor or two over the last 92 years (Jerry Brown, anyone?), and has been known to harbor the occasional cajillionaire Republican ? yet never before has a gubernatorial recall been ordered. As Weintraub says, ?let?s have the election, and quit whining about it.?