Mona Charen

The nation owes Arnold Schwarzenegger gratitude for pushing Kobe Bryant out of the headlines for the first time in weeks.

Still, the concept of recalling a sitting governor for anything less than moral turpitude strikes this conservative as ill-advised.

Liberals, you may have noticed, tend not to cling very hard to principle. They are outcome-oriented. If judicial activism brings them the policy results they desire, they're all for judicial activism (as in the case of the Florida Supreme Court rewriting the election law ex post facto in 2000). But if judicial activism brings about a result they do not desire, they can pivot and denounce the U.S. Supreme Court for meddling in an area that is beyond the proper province of the judiciary.

Similarly, when a Republican senator grabs and kisses ladies who stray into his office (Bob Packwood), he is a disgrace that cannot be tolerated in Washington, D.C. When Bill Clinton -- well, you know the rest.

There are, of course, Republicans who lose sight of principle from time to time as well. The ones who ran on term limits and then overstayed their welcome spring immediately to mind.

I raise the matter of principle because the state of California is currently paralyzed in part because it has abandoned the sound principles upon which the nation was founded. The Constitution does not, of course, specify how Californians are to govern themselves -- except to say in Article IV, Section 4 that every state must be guaranteed a "republican form of government." A republican form of government means that the people choose their leaders. It does not mean that the people decide every question by referendum The latter would be direct democracy, and direct democracy (particularly at the federal level) was exactly what the Founders were wise enough to avoid.

But California's love affair with the initiative and referendum is leading it perilously close to direct democracy. Why protest? After all, most of the results of these popular decisions have been congenial to conservatives. We really liked Proposition 13 and the trend it ignited around the nation. We were pleased by Proposition 209, which outlawed affirmative action, and by Proposition 227, which outlawed bilingual education. Today, we eagerly await results on the "racial privacy initiative" backed by Ward Connerly, which would forbid the State of California to ask the race of its residents on official forms.


Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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