Recalls and Witch Hunts

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

So now the call for punishing legislators who raised taxes has spread to those legislators who did not vote to raise taxes. Calls for recalls have gone beyond the targets of the governor and Republicans who voted for the taxes to include Republicans who voted to put Proposition 1A, the spending limit/two-year tax extension measure on the ballot. Supposedly, there was a deep conspiracy to make the taxes happen and all, or nearly all, Republican legislators are guilty.

Am I the only one that sees echoes of the Salem witch trials and Arthur Miller’s award winning play about the witch trials, The Crucible, in all this?

In the play, presiding Judge Danforth says: “You must understand, sir, that a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between.”
In Salem, all is black and white, you are either with God or with the Devil, and anyone who opposes the court cannot be an honest opponent.

In the recall efforts, if you even say a kind word about someone who supported taxes, whether you agreed with their vote or not, you must be punished.

Recalls are a legitimate and certainly legal outlet for voters’ frustration. But, an effort for mass recall implicating more and still more legislators that might carry the Devil’s mark of even thinking about taxes brings the whole movement into question, and has the unseemly odor of a lynch mob mentality.

There has been a backlash to the backlash, so to speak. Brave commentaries by political law attorney Jim Lacy and former state Senator Jim Battin have recently appeared on Flash Report countering the demand for recalls.

Politicians’ retreats from campaign promises happen all too often and are a justifiable reason for voters’ angst and angry demonstrations. Of course, change in circumstances can also lead to the politician’s change in course. As the great British Parliament member and conservative leader, Edmund Burke observed, “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”

Complaining about, complaining to, and even working to remove legislators from office are important ingredients in our democracy. But when the effort to punish goes beyond natural boundaries, when recalls are pursued not merely to punish an action but declare guilt by association, something else is at work. Such activities will not only destabilize the rules of governing, but also will undermine the legitimate efforts of offended voters to respond to political chicanery.

Off with all their heads is going beyond those boundaries.

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