During the debate of the recall amendment, progressives argued that the recall was appropriate because it would rarely be used. That argument is now forever moot.Let's repeal the recall.
Take, for example the pending recall election against Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who in his last three elections has received 68 percent, 97 percent (unopposed), and 69 percent of the vote in his district. It is difficult to find an elected official with more popular support among his constituents. Yet in Wisconsin in 2012, every Senate district has more than enough members of the opposite party to force a recall, and technology makes them easy to find and to mobilize. If a recall can be used against an elected official as popular in his district as Scott Fitzgerald, it can be used against anyone; and likely will, making Wisconsin a state of perpetual elections.
This is becoming evident, with the effort by conservative groups to recall two senators who, in March blocked passage of a bill to create an iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin. These recall efforts are based not on “corruption” or malfeasance in office, but simply a disagreement on a policy matter.
It appears that no longer will the recall be used judiciously, and increasingly, recalls will become the tool of special interests—whose influence Bob La Follette spent his entire career trying to reduce. Instead of keeping elected officials beholden to the people, recalls keep them beholden to a single moneyed interest group that can force their recall at any time. This is exactly the opposite of what the amendment intended to do.
April 15, 2012
Christian Schneider has a detailed history of the amendment to the Wisconsin constitution: