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Weak=Strong. Good=Bad. Democracy=Anti-Democracy.

There may be no more pre-election hysteria, but there's plenty of post-election hysteria. For example, this piece by The American Prospect's Robert Kuttner:

TRENDS AND FADS often start in California, and that thought should terrify anyone who cares about a functioning democracy. Yesterday's recall election is history's ironic revenge on a well-intentioned set of reforms championed by the Golden State's great progressive governor, Hiram Johnson. Johnson's Progressives, beginning in 1911, enacted the populist measures beloved by that generation of reformers -- the ballot initiative, the recall, and nonpartisan local elections. Johnson was a crusader against monopolies. He imagined that giving government back to the people would purge politics of the corruption of moneyed interests. [...]

So, in a sense, Hiram Johnson had a point. If elected officials want to keep the confidence of voters, they had better get serious about addressing real problems.

Unfortunately, Johnson's remedy is allowing disgusted voters to wreck democracy itself. California will be a long time digging out. Neither party should take any comfort.

Kuttner's point seems to be that recalls and ballot initiatives are great ideas, except when he happens to disagree with the reasons and the results. Then they become undemocratic. Unfortunately for him, a majority of Californians disagreed with him and supported the recall.

But why? On a certain level it doesn't matter, as Steven Den Beste points out:

Why do I think Davis was recalled yesterday? Because 55 percent of the voters wanted Davis out, and 48% of them wanted Schwarzenegger to be his replacement. That's why.

I know that sounds prosaic, but I think it's really the most important message of all. Yesterday we demonstrated that the government of the State of California works for its citizens and is controlled by them, and if the people become sufficiently dissatisfied with what the government does, they'll replace it.

Absolutely. And Robert Kuttner apparently thinks that we all should be as terrified of this message as he is.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 9, 2003 12:05 PM.

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