Jonah Goldberg

I have been against the California recall from the get-go. I haven't changed my mind, but I have chosen a candidate.

But first, it should be said that most of the liberal arguments against the recall are flatly absurd. As the courts have recognized from the beginning, the recall is a legitimate function of government written down in black and white like any other law. Too argue that it's illegitimate only when your ox is being gored is too convenient by half.

Does anyone think that if Bill Simon had been elected governor in the last election Democrats would be opposed to recalling him out of principle? Many Democrats, including Gray Davis and Cruz Bustamante, have claimed that the recall is "undemocratic." Only in a society and a political party where "democratic" has come to mean "anything I think is good" could someone believe that the recall is undemocratic.

The argument is backward. The recall is too democratic. In a democratic republic, voters decide on which politicians should make decisions. We don't - except in rare circumstances - make the decisions ourselves.

The recall, in my opinion, undermines the accountability of voters, telling them in effect that they can have a do-over whenever they mess things up by electing the wrong guy. Well, I'm sorry. As I've said before, the people of California elected Gray Davis and now they must be punished.

That may sound like a joke, but it's actually a central tenet of democracy. Politicians and parties must be held accountable for their past mistakes if they are going to be relied upon to fulfill their promises in the future. Recalling Gray Davis might teach him a lesson, but so what? Gray Davis is destined to be working at a Fotomat anyway.

It's important that political parties be held accountable, too. California's problems, for example, are the direct consequence of Democratic Party policies. And until Californians understand that their state's problems are not accidental so much as logical, the liberals of the California Democratic Party will continue to run the state into the ground.

That's why electing Arnold Schwarzenegger is probably the worst of all possible outcomes. He doesn't stand for anything except himself. He's a social liberal, and his few conservative positions are usually couched in inoffensive blather.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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