Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Even if the politics ain't pristine, calling in the Gestapo is a seriously bad idea

I do not doubt that the Michigan recall petition drive against Speaker of the House Andy Dillon (D-17th District) is politically and maybe even externally motivated, as Phil Power of the Center for Michigan and others claim.

The two prime movers in the drive, former State Representative and current MaComb County Commissioner Leon Drolet and Wayne County Taxpayers Association Chair Rose Bogaert, both have ties to well-known anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist.

And I can even accept--at least for the sake of argument--that the recall petitioners may be using less-than-ethical tactics in some of their attempts to gain the necessary 8-10,000 signatures (25% of the registered voters in the district).

But none of that excuses the following three items:

1) The idea, apparently prevalent in Michigan progressive Democrat circles that the very idea of citizen recall of elected officials is somehow anti-democratic (just like term limits). Here's the afore-mentioned Phil Power holding forth on those stupid voters whose idea that their legislators should be held accountable amounts to . . . blackmail:

Term limits are bad enough, but I’ve always thought that threatening to recall elected lawmakers because they cast a certain vote is awfully close to blackmail. Recalls, if they succeed, solve nothing; special elections cost thousands of dollars and newly elected legislators who come in as part of a recall have no idea what they’re up to before they face a regular election in November.

And it seems perverse that local voters, who made their preferences known last November, could be stampeded by a bunch of noisy activists into reversing course just 17 months later.

Recalls – perhaps especially the one now underway against Dillon – only fuel the kind of hyper-partisan warfare we all have come to hate . Elections fueled by shadowy, dogmatic interest groups with fat pocketbooks are hardly what Michigan needs.

Whether you agree with the way he votes or not, Speaker Dillon has been an able legislator. He fully deserves to remain in office at least until his term expires in January. And neither he, nor we, should have to put up with any of these silly and obvious recall games.

2) The blatant use by Dillon and the Democrats of every power in the state and county administrations to stop the movement is downright nauseating. This has included the courts (to get a ruling that no out-of-district petition solicitors can be used); the police union (which has been robo-calling everyone in the district); off-duty county employees (who are shadowing petition solicitors); and the firefighters' union (which clearly and blatantly says that they're supporting Dillon no matter how he votes because he's always gotten them good government Homeland Security pork).

3) But worst of all has been the open, cynical, and even jovial use of the local police to harass the citizens involved in the recall effort. Jim Fryar provides this video at Real World Libertarian (and what I want to know is how the hell Jim--in Australia--always finds this stuff before I do). It's both funny and scary at the same time:

You don't have to like the recall effort to find this use of Gestapo-style police-state tactics chilling.

All of which makes me wonder: Why should we care about who the Michigan Democrats supported in their primary, anyway?

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